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Japanese kayaker banned for 8 years after spiking the drink of a rival

Yasuhiro Suzuki won’t be doing any competitive kayaking for eight years after lacing a rival’s drink with a banned substance. (Kyodo News via AP)

We already know that the world of Olympic sports can be cutthroat. The Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan “incident” in 1994 proved that in spades. But would you expect that kind of scheming behavior in kayaking?

Apparently we should. In a plot that sounds like it’s straight from a movie or an airport bookstore thriller, ESPN reported on Tuesday that a Japanese kayaker has been banned for drugging the drink of a rival.

The kayak racer in question is Yasuhiro Suzuki, and the intrigue began back in September at the national championships. Rival kayaker Seiji Komatsu was given a drug test and tested positive for a banned substance. Komatsu was suspended, but vehemently denied ever taking drugs. Komatsu’s denials caused the Japan Canoe Federation to investigate, which led to Suzuki admitting that he’d slipped an anabolic steroid in Komatsu’s drink.

As for why Suzuki decided to spike Komatsu’s drink, Japanese news outlet NHK had this puzzling tidbit:

Federation officials say Suzuki told them that he was frustrated and did not think he could win. He reportedly added that he did not think the drug would be detected in the test.

His motivation for spiking Komatsu’s drink makes sense, but the bit about not thinking the drug would be detected does not make sense. Why spike the drink at all if he didn’t think it would cause a positive test? Otherwise he’s just giving his rival a secret competitive advantage that no one would ever know about.

According to ESPN, the Japan Anti-Doping Agency has banned Suzuki from competition for eight years, which means he can’t compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Komatsu’s suspension has been lifted.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher