Jake Gibb, left, of Team USA celebrates with his teammate Sean Rosenthal, right, during their Beach Volleyball match against South Africa at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Saturday in London.
LONDON — First the drug tester told American beach volleyball player Jake Gibb that he was suspended.
Then he said to call a doctor.
A quick Internet search told Gibb the abnormal levels of hormones in his blood were most often found in pregnant women, steroid users and men with testicular cancer. A biopsy soon confirmed what he had already concluded. The doping ban was subsequently lifted, but Gibb was expected to miss the Olympics anyway while recovering.
“The Olympics were out,” he said in a video posted to his website in the days leading up to the London Games. “It was a tough dream to let go of. The toughest part was telling people and letting them know. Because once it came out of my mouth, it felt real.”
But surgery got the cancer — all of it, meaning Gibb didn’t need chemotherapy. He got back on tour with partner Sean Rosenthal and earned enough points to qualify for the London Games in the very last event of the year.
Now, Gibb is a two-time Olympian.
And a two-time cancer survivor.
“The pinnacle of our sport is the Olympic games. For me to go and put USA on my chest, it means the world to me. It’s something so special,” said Gibb, who has a scar on his left shoulder from a 2004 skin cancer. “It almost wasn’t a reality to me. I was scared. I didn’t know anything about it, didn’t know how to react.”