The sordid tale, told by NHK and Japan Times, went down during a national sprint canoe championship in September in Ishikawa prefecture. Fearing competition for a spot on the Japanese national team at the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Yasuhiro Suzuki spiked the drink of rival Seiji Komatsu in hopes that Komatsu would later be banned. Komatsu indeed failed a drug test after the competition — the drink was spiked with a muscle-building supplement containing the steroid methandienone — but the Japan Canoe Federation began an investigation after his claims that he had not knowingly ingested the performance enhancer.
Not only did the federation find that Suzuki had spiked Komatsu’s drink, but it also found that he “had made repeated attempts to sabotage other competitors, not only Komatsu, by such means as stealing equipment used in training and competition,” the Japan Times writes.
Suzuki, who finished 24th at last year’s world championships in the K1 5000-meter event, received an eight-year ban from the Japan Anti-Doping Agency. Komatsu had his temporary ban over the failed drug test lifted, though his results from the September event still were considered void.
“An incident of this nature is unheard of in the history of sports in Japan and it is very disappointing,” Sports Agency Director Daichi Suzuki said, per the Japan Times.
Said Toshihiko Furuya, managing director of the Japan Canoe Federation, “It is a significant loss for Japanese people who have spent many years building up sportsmanship as a virtue.”