Betrayed by a friend, how the Olympic sprinter’s career unfolded after a shock arrest in the drug crackdown | UK News

Born to drug-addicted parents, surrounded by heroin and crack cocaine, Leon Reid says all he ever wanted was to get away from drugs.

Instead, the sprinter ended up feeling cheated and betrayed by a friend, which led to a conviction for allowing his home to be used to produce crack cocaine.

It was the culmination of a career in athletics that saw him compete in the Olympics for Ireland.

The 28-year-old sees himself as the victim of naivety and breach of trust. And it’s a story he hopes others – especially in the sport – can learn from to avoid making the same mistakes.

“I trusted someone and an old sparring partner, an old friend,” Reid told Sky News during his first TV interview on the case. “I feel like I really took advantage of myself, especially when I was at the peak of my career.”

After moving between 14 foster homes, Reid found stability and speed on the athletics track.

Running set her life on a new path after a troubled childhood, with the encouragement of adoptive parents and a coach. This offered him an unexpected career.

Running for Northern Ireland, his major event debut came in 2018. Bronze in the 200m was won by the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

In 2020, he is preparing for the Olympics, delayed by the pandemic, and changing his routine.

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Leon Reid (far right) competed in the Tokyo Olympics

A friend “used his apartment” to produce crack

The first confinement prevented him from continuing his training in South Africa. So he was back in England, moving back to a flat in Bristol that he sublet to a friend.

Reid claims that while training, Romaine Hyman used the apartment to produce crack.

The first time he knew about it was when the police arrived, he insists.

In May 2020, he was arrested in connection with an operation by the South West Regional Organized Crime Unit, taking down an encrypted communications service.

“It’s obviously very upsetting,” Reid said near the beach in Worthing. “That’s all I’ve tried to get away from (drugs) my whole life and get back into that kind of circle, it was just nothing I ever dreamed I’d be in. involved, never.”

Sentenced to serve community sentence

While awaiting trial, he was still able to make it to the Olympics – after appealing an Irish deselection decision – and reached the 200m semi-finals in Tokyo in 2021.

Then came his trial last year and a conviction for allowing his flat to be used for the production of cocaine and receiving payment, the text messages of which turned out to be £500.

Reid was ordered to perform community service. Hyman was jailed for 26 years after being convicted of 18 offenses in the crackdown on his attempt to build a drug empire.

“I was there training for the Olympics. I was at the peak of my career,” Reid recalls. “I wasn’t really focused on my friend. He was doing his training in the apartment, which obviously he said was forex trading and stuff like that, which I’m not interested in.”

How could Reid not notice that the apartment was being used to produce cocaine?

“He was making sure I got out of the apartment,” he replied. “I was on an AMA drug list, so even if I touched a doorknob that had drug traces on it, I would get a positive drug test and fail, and I would lose my career position to risk this on any scale.”

“It destroyed my career and also my reputation”

Reid argues he was “too nonchalant about the whole situation” while doing a favor for a friend, insisting, “I didn’t need the money.”

He had gained status, sponsors and success. But they abandoned him after the sentencing.

A return to the Commonwealth Games was also blocked last year when it was deemed a security risk by Birmingham organizers.

“It destroyed my career,” he says. “And also my reputation.”

The gains were lost, the debt increased. With her first child born a month ago, Reid realized a career hit by a criminal conviction had to come to an end.

But throughout our hour together, he doesn’t seem angry. Not even about betrayal.

“Emotion control is obviously very important in sports, and obviously you have to take that into account in life,” Reid said. “I can’t get angry for every little thing.

“And for the past couple of years, I’ve had a bit of this nightmare. So for me to be able to clear the air and have a fresh start, it’s more important than getting mad at someone. … in prison.”

Instead, he hopes to use his misfortune to help those still in professional sports. A mentoring business is being set up, so he can quit his temp job as a telemarketer.

“I fought my demons the last two years,” Reid says. “I’ve had sleepless nights and cried myself to sleep. But now I’m looking forward to the future.”


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