Kayak racer achieves rare feat of getting suspended because someone else used steroids.

With the opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just over two years away, athletes across Japan are already looking for ways to distinguish themselves and earn selection for their national teams. Even within that demographic, 32-year-old kayaker Yasuhiro Suzuki was probably feeling more pressure than most. Canoe/kayak racing is a sport that only gets any real time in the spotlight during the Olympics, and at his age, Suzuki would probably be past his physical peak by the time of the 2024 Games in Paris.

Unfortunately, Suzuki’s search for a competitive edge led him down a dark path: steroids. The Japan Anti-Doping Agency has just handed down an indictment of the athlete for his use of banned muscle enhancers, although Suzuki himself didn’t take the drugs.

In September, during the Japan Canoe Sprint Championship held in Ishikawa Prefecture, Suzuki secretly slipped a measure of metandienone, an androgen and anabolic steroid also known as Dianabol, into the beverage of fellow kayaker Seiji Komatsu, one of Suzuki’s competitors in the singles category. The 25-year-old Komatsu unknowingly consumed the substance, and went on to win the competition, but subsequent tests revealed the presence of metandienone in his system, leading to his disqualification and temporary suspension.

▼ Seiji Komatsu (center)

Suzuki’s actions came to light during the subsequent investigation, and the Japan Canoe Federation says that Suzuki has admitted to the accusations. While Suzuki and Komatsu were competitors, the two did not have an antagonistic relationship before the incident. “The two of them got along very well,” says JCF managing director Osahiro Haruzono. “When Komatsu found out he’d tested positive for steroids, he contacted Suzuki [for moral support] right away. That’s how close they were.”

The scandal is the first known incident in Japan of an athlete spiking another’s drink with a controlled substance, and in light of the new revelations, Suzuki has been suspended from competition for eight years, meaning that he won’t have a shot at making an Olympic team until the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Komatsu’s ban has been lifted, and he’s now clear to return to competition.

Sources: Sankei News, Nitele News 24, Daily via Hamster Sokuho
Top image: Pakutaso