Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning suspended its sponsorship of Asafa Powell after the Jamaican sprinter failed a doping test and was formally placed under criminal investigation in Italy for possible anti-doping law violation.

The company said in a statement it has “great respect for his efforts and hard work” over the years but it was suspending its deal with the former 100m world record holder pending the outcome of a doping investigation.

The announcement comes days after weekend revelations that Powell and fellow Jamaican track star Sherone Simpson tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrone at the national championships last month.

Discus thrower Allison Randall and two other athletes also returned positive for banned substances at the same meet.

News over the weekend that Tyson Gay also was under the doping cloud led sportswear giant adidas to suspend its sponsorship of the U.S. sprinter on Monday.

On Wednesday, Li-Ning said it would immediately end its contract with Powell if he is “found to be involved in the use of banned stimulants.”

Firmly opposed

The company said it “is firmly opposed to any acts of deceit that tarnishes the principles of fair competition.”

Li-Ning, which has thousands of retail outlets in China, is gradually gaining recognition in the United States. — AP

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