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Archive for Monday, July 31, 2006

Gatlin’s coach says sample was sabotaged

July 31, 2006

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Reigning Olympic 100 meter champion Justin Gatlin's positive drug test after the Kansas Relays was a result of sabotage by a massage therapist, Gatlin's coach, Trevor Graham, told The Washington Post on Sunday.

"We know who the person is who actually did this," Graham told the Post by phone from Raleigh, N.C., the home base of his Sprint Capitol team. "Justin is devastated. Myself, too. We're extremely (upset) right now. We are trying to go out and make sure we can prove his innocence, and we hope this individual has the guts to come forward and say he did it."

Graham declined to name the massage therapist, saying he did not want to jeopardize the case.

Gatlin's attorney, Cameron Myler, said she and the sprinter had ideas about how his drug tests came up positive, but she would not get into details and said she did not condone Graham's allegations.

Gatlin could be banned for life if his testing positive for testosterone or other steroids is confirmed.

Kansas Relays officials had nothing to do with Gatlin's drug test after the 400 relay race on April 22 at Memorial Stadium.

Gatlin, the anchor runner for HSI, provided a urine sample to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, not KU officials. Track and field athletes are subject to testing by the Anti-Doping Agency at any time of the calendar year.

Kansas University officials will not comment about Gatlin's failed drug test until all of Gatlin's attempts to prove his innocence are complete. Gatlin denied using any banned substance or authorizing anyone to give a banned substance to him.

"Obviously, we want a totally clean meet," KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said Sunday. "We will wait until the process is complete before we say anything. It would not be proper for us to say anything with the process still under way."

Dick Pound, the leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Sunday called for the former Tennessee standout to be banned for "up to life" if the results are confirmed. Gatlin says he did not know why the test came back positive and promised cooperation with USADA.

Gatlin's connection with his coach, Graham, is viewed as problematic.

Graham is a key figure in the BALCO investigation and has coached several athletes who have tested positive for steroids.

If Gatlin is proven guilty, his world record would be stripped. He tied Jamaican Asafa Powell's mark (9.77 seconds) in the 100 meters in May, after the positive test.

Gatlin also would be banned for life, the standard discipline for a second positive test.

"If they can find someone who did, in fact, spike it, then it is for them to prove, but short of something like that, I think he has a very serious problem," Pound said.

WADA bylaws do provide relief for accused athletes who can prove they have been victims of sabotage.

The International Association of Athletics Federation said in a statement Sunday that Gatlin will be suspended for life if his positive drug tests - both his 'A' and 'B' samples came back positive - are confirmed. Gatlin was suspended for two years in 2001 after testing for illegal substances, the result of taking medication to control attention deficit disorder.

Gatlin's case next goes in front of a review panel. If the positive test is upheld, Gatlin could then take the case to arbitration, which could be his best chance to prove he was sabotaged, if that's the course he pursues.

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