Tyson Gay: Sprint Champion on the Rebound

Tyson Gay was the world's top sprinter in 2007. Michael Steele/Getty Images

Tyson Gay went from the top, as the world's number one sprinter, to the bottom, when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. At age 32, he then began a comeback and a quest for redemption.

Career Highlights:

Gay was a three-time high school state champion in Kentucky, and won the NCAA 100-meter national championship for Arkansas in 2004. He broke through internationally with a fourth-place finish in the 200 meters at the 2005 World Championships, finishing behind Americans Justin Gatlin, Wallace Spearmon and John Capel. Gay won his first U.S. title, in the 100, in 2006, then hit the top of the world's sprint charts in 2007 by winning gold medals in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 relay at the 2007 World Championships. On his way to the Osaka Championships, Gay ran what was then the second-fastest 200-meter time in American history, at the U.S. Outdoor Championships, of 19.62 seconds. Former world record-holder Michael Johnson owns the U.S. record of 19.32. Gay dropped his personal best to 19.58 in 2009.

Tough Trials:

Gay had an adventure in almost every race of the 2008 Olympic Trials. In the 100, Gay pulled up too early during the first preliminary heat and had to rally to grab the fourth and final automatic qualifying spot. Gay blazed to a then-U.S. record 9.77 clocking in the quarterfinal and finished in 9.85 in his semifinal before running the then-fastest 100 meters in world history to win the final in 9.68 seconds. The time wasn’t a recognized world record because he was aided by a 4.1-meters per second wind. After winning the 100, however, Gay injured his hamstring while competing in the 200, costing him a chance at a medal in Beijing, and beginning a series of injuries that resulted in several surgeries.

Bolt vs. Gay:

A budding rivalry with Jamaica's Usain Bolt started well for Gay, as Bolt took second to the American in the 2007 World Championship 200 meters. The pair didn't meet in the 2008 Olympics, as Gay - with his hamstring still mending - didn't reach the 100-meter final. Despite some nagging muscle pain Gay came back strongly in 2009. He finished second to Bolt in the 100 at the World Outdoor Championships (9.71) and set a U.S. 100-meter record later in the year (9.69), despite suffering from a groin injury.

Surgery and First Comeback:

Gay underwent hip surgery in 2011, then returned in time to qualify for the 2012 Olympics at 100 meters. Gay placed fourth in the 100-meter final, but gained his first Olympic medal, as part of the American 4 x 100-meter relay team, which finished second to Bolt and his Jamaican teammates.

Failing the Test, and the Second Comeback:

After winning U.S. championships at both 100 and 200 meters in 2013, a fully healthy Gay seemed ready for another battle with Bolt at the Moscow World Championships. First, however, came revelations that Gay had tested positive for a banned substance. He was suspended for one year, returning to the track to begin another comeback in 2014.


  • Height: 5-11
  • Weight: 165
  • Birth date: August 9, 1982
  • Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
  • Personal bests: 9.69 seconds (100 meters); 19.58 (200 meters); 44.89 (400 meters)