Tyson Gay

Tyson Gay Biography

Track and Field Athlete, Athlete (1982–)
Tyson Gay is an American Olympic sprinter who competed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, placing fourth in the men's 100 in 2012.


Born in Kentucky in 1982, Tyson Gay has been ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100-meter dash twice in his career. A hamstring injury in 2008 prevented Gay from making it to the finals in the 100m at the 2008 Olympic Games. He placed fourth in the 100m at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, finishing one hundredth of a second behind American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who took the bronze medal. In July 2013, Gay publicly announced that he had tested positive for an unnamed banned substance two months earlier, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Early Years

Tyson Gay was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on August 9, 1982. In his teens, he became a three-time Class 3A 100-meter state champ while at Lafayette High School, and his 10.46 state-meet record from 2001 is still standing as of 2012. After high school, Gay attended the University of Arkansas, where he became the first athlete in the school's history to win an NCAA 100-meter title.

Becoming a World Champion

After turning pro, Gay raced in the 2005 USA Outdoor Championships, coming in second in the 200-meter. He then ran the 200-meter sprint at the 2005 World Championships and finished fourth, behind three of his countrymen—Justin Gatlin, Wallace Spearmon and John Capel. This marked the first time that one nation took the top four positions at the event. Gay ended the 2005 season by taking the gold medal in the 200-meter at the World Athletics Final, his first major championship.

In 2007, Gay won the 100- and 200-meter sprints at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan, and took gold as a part of the 4-by-100m relay (he became only the third man to win three gold medals at a single world championships meet). Gay's 200-meter victory prompted Usain Bolt, whom Gay bested in the race, to say, "I got beaten by the No. 1 man in the world. For the moment, he is unbeatable." That same year, Gay won U.S. titles in the 100- and 200-meter races. His 200m, in which he ran into a slight headwind, was the second-fastest ever recorded.

Usain Bolt would have his revenge early in 2008, however, when he set the world record at the Reebok Grand Prix, and Gay came in second. In June 2008, Gay set the American record in the 100-meter dash, running it in 9.77 seconds in the quarterfinals of the Olympic trials. The next day, he won the final in 9.68 seconds. There was a tailwind of 4.1 meters per second, however, and the time did not count as a world record (2 mps is the allowable limit).

2008 and 2012 Olympic Runs

While participating in a race for the 2008 Beijing Olympic trials, Gay suffered a strained left hamstring and did not finish, and was ruled out of the event for the Games. He did run in other events in Beijing, but ended the event with no medals, perhaps hampered all along by his injury.

At the 2009 World Championships, Gay ran a new American record of 9.71 seconds in the 100m, the third-fastest time ever, but nevertheless came in second to Bolt. Later that year, in Shanghai, he ran the 100m in 9.69 seconds and set a new American record.

Gay has continued his success in recent years, taking titles in Stockholm and London. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, he placed fourth in the men's 100, finishing one hundredth of a second behind American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who took the bronze. However the 4-by-100m relay brought Gay his first medal at the Olympics, winning silver with his teammates and an American record of 37.04 seconds.

Doping Scandal

In July 2013, a 30-year-old Tyson Gay publicly announced that he had tested positive for an unnamed banned substance in May, as reported by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

"I don't have any sabotage story," the track star stated in an interview with The Associated Press. "I don't have any lies. I don't have anything to say to make this seem like it was a mistake or it was on USADA's hands, someone playing games. I don't have any of those stories. I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down." He went on to say that he is prepared for whatever punishment is coming his way, and will take it "like a man," adding, "I do realize and respect what I put in my body, and it is my responsibility."

Journalist Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour's senior correspondent, called Gay "the biggest U.S. track name linked to doping since Marion Jones tearfully admitted in 2007 to using performance-enhancing drugs."

As a result of his doping, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Tyson would face a one-year suspension and stripped him of his silver medal from the 2012 summer Olympics.

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