America’s Fastest Ever HS Sprinter Issam Asinga Just Got Popped For Drugs

Issam Asinga, the 18-year-old sprint sensation who two weeks ago became the youngest athlete in history to break 10 seconds for 100 meters, has been provisionally suspended just eight days out from the start of the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. The Athletics Integrity Unit announced that Assinga was suspended for the “presence/use” of GW1516, a prohibited substance that, according to USADA, “modifies how the body metabolizes fat.” WADA issued a warning about the substance, which is also known as GW501516 and endurabol and is also believed to boost endurance, in 2013. USADA published an explainer on GW1516 in 2019.

GW1516 is the same drug that 2012 Olympic 800m silver medalist Nijel Amos was banned for ahead of last year’s World Championships.

In an Instagram post on Friday afternoon, Asinga said that the the positive sample stemmed from a test taken on July 18 and that there was only a trace amount of the banned substance — 0.2 ng/ml — in his sample. He added that all of his supplements are batch tested for banned substances.

“My team and I are aware that the next generation of track stars is looking up to me, and I would never intentionally let them down,” Asinga wrote. Asinga’s full statement is below.

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Asinga said his B sample will be tested before the World Championships, which begin in Budapest on August 19. If the B sample returns a negative result, Asinga would be cleared. If it returns an atypical finding, Asinga’s suspension would be lifted and the AIU would open an investigation into the test restults. If Assinga’s suspension is upheld, he would be facing a four-year ban, which could be reduced to three upon prompt admission of doping.

Assinga, a US citizen who was born in the United States but represents Suriname internationally, had been in the midst of a breakout season in 2023. After running 10.44 and 21.25 and winning Missouri state titles in the 100 and 200 meters as a junior at the Principia School in 2022, Assinga transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida for his senior year in 2022-23 and dramatically lowered his personal bests. At Montverde, Asinga put together one of the greatest seasons in history by a US high school sprinter and emerged as one of the top sprinters on the planet.

On April 23, Assinga ran a wind-aided 9.83 (+2.6) in the 100 to beat world 200m champion Noah Lyles (9.89) at the Pure Athletics Spring Invitational. Six days later in Lubbock, Assinga became just the second US high schooler ever under 20 seconds in the 200 meters, running 19.97 at the Corky/Crofoot Shootout. Assinga then ran 10.05 to win the 100 meters at New Balance Nationals Outdoor on June 17.

The performance that turned the most heads came at the South American championships in Sao Paulo on July 28. In that race, Asinga ran 9.89 to make all sorts of history. It marked the first sub-10 by a US high schooler (though Asinga had already graduated by that point), broke Letsile Tebogo’s world U20 record of 9.91, and made Assinga, at 18 years, 211 days, the youngest man in history to break 10 seconds (and 9.90). It also moved Asinga into a tie for 4th on the 2023 world list, putting him in the medal conversation for the World Championships.

Assinga’s support system consists of a number of people who have had experience in the sport. His mother, Ngozi Mwanamwamba, was a two-time Olympian for Zambia in the 400 meters, while his father, Tommy Asinga, was a three-time Olympian for Surinam at 800m. Asinga’s coach at Montverde, Gerald Phiri, was the 2010 NCAA runner-up in the 60 meters for Texas A&M and a two-time Olympian for Zambia. Asinga had committed to run at Texas A&M next year.

Quick Take: We’ll be interested to see how this case unfolds

It’s very rare to see a high school runner in the United States handed a doping suspension, in part because very few of them are good enough to be drug-tested. If this were a USADA case, Asinga would have a better chance of being cleared as USADA has been more willing than the AIU to accept athletes’ explanations of contaminated food/supplement. The AIU has been less flexible in those cases, which means Asinga will face an uphill battle if his B sample comes back positive.

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MB: Issam Asinga SUSPENDED After positive doping test

This article has been updated from its original version to include Asinga’s statement on the matter.


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