Fri, Aug 04, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Masseur denies having used testosterone cream on Gatlin

AP , PORTLAND, OREGON

An Oregon massage therapist who worked with Olympian Marion Jones and other elite athletes denied using a cream containing testosterone on sprinter Justin Gatlin.

Christopher Whetstine, who is under contract to Nike, was drawn into the Gatlin doping scandal by the sprinter's coach, Trevor Graham.

Gatlin faces a lifetime ban after failing a drug test in April following a track meet in Lawrence, Kansas.

Graham has contended Gatlin tested positive after a vengeful massage therapist used testosterone cream on the runner without his knowledge. In an Italian newspaper, Graham identified the massage therapist as Whetstine, who has a private practice in Eugene.

"Trevor Graham is not speaking on behalf of Justin Gatlin, and the statement about me is not true," Whetstine said on Wednesday in a statement read over the phone by his attorney, Elizabeth Baker.

"I have fully cooperated with the investigation into this matter," he said.

Baker said Whetstine denies using a banned substance on Gatlin or "any other athlete."

Gatlin, the co-world record-holder in the 100 meters, acknowledged last weekend that the US Anti-Doping Agency informed him of a test indicating he had used testosterone or other steroids after a relay race in Kansas in April.

Gatlin has said he didn't know how steroids got into his system, and his attorney has distanced the runner from the comment by Graham, who has been involved with at least a half-dozen athletes who have received drug suspensions.

Over the years, Whetstine's clients have included entertainer Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, golfer Ben Crane and three of Graham's athletes -- Jones, Gatlin and sprinter Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 200m.

Whetstine worked with Jones from 1998-2001 and was her masseur for the Sydney Olympics, where she won five medals, three gold. Jones, who no longer trains with Graham, has also been dogged by doping allegations but has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

Don Butzner, an Oregon-based massage therapist who also works with athletes, said he was shocked by the claims.

"Chris knows how to work with these athletes to win without that [performance-enhancing substances,]" he said.

In 1995, Whetstine was sentenced to 36 months' probation and fined following a conviction for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, according to Tanna Tracewell, records supervisor for Lane County District Court.

Baker confirmed the conviction and said the substance was marijuana.

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