Tyson Gay felt healthy for the first time in years and was aiming high: He planned to step on the track at world championships and push Usain Bolt.
Not so fast.
The anticipated 100-meter showdown got scrubbed after Gay, the American record holder in the event, failed a drug test for a banned substance.
That revelation came Sunday, within hours of more bad news for track and field: Asafa Powell, the one-time world-record holder at 100 meters, and his Jamaican teammate, three-time Olympic medalist Sherone Simpson, tested positive for prohibited stimulants.
A sport that vowed it had cleaned itself up after decades of stories about disgraced, drug-fueled sprinters — Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, to name a few — found itself in a very similar spot after this latest flurry of doping cases.
"A sad day," said Doug Logan, the former CEO at USA Track and Field. "But I don't see anything on the horizon that says this will be abated in any way."
Gay chose to withdraw from next month's world championships while his case plays out; the next step is a test of his "B'' sample, which could come as early as this week. Simpson's and Powell's status remains in limbo. Simpson was eligible for the 100, while Powell was waiting to see if he'd make the relay team.
"Will this be a cloud over (worlds)? I think it would be naive to say otherwise," said Ato Boldon, a four-time Olympic medalist and sprint analyst. "I sat down and thought about the events I'm looking forward to. There are people who are not there, for all the wrong reasons. ..."
Long considered a nonconforming pot-stirrer, Logan recently wrote a column arguing that the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sports should be surrendered because, in his view, anti-doping rules make very little headway against a problem that never seems to disappear. He said Sunday's onslaught of failed tests only bolstered his point.