Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Gatlin masseur recovering from assault

AP , PORTLAND, OREGON

The massage therapist at the center of doping allegations against Olympic and world 100m champion Justin Gatlin is recovering from an alleged attack by a former long jumper.

Christopher Whetstine was assaulted in June during the US national track and field championships in Indianapolis, his attorney Elizabeth Baker told the New York Times.

Gatlin, the co-world-record holder in the 100, faces a lifetime ban from athletics after failing a drug test in April following a meet in Lawrence, Kansas.

Gatlin's coach, Trevor Graham, has accused Whetstine of maliciously rubbing testosterone cream on the sprinter's body to trip that positive drug test.

If the allegations against Gatlin hold up, he would face a life ban and the loss of the world record. Gatlin equaled Jamaican Asafa Powell's mark of 9.77 seconds in May, a month after the positive test.

He would keep his Athens gold medal in the 100 and world 100 and 200 titles from last year.

Whetstine, 42, was hospitalized with a concussion, broken nose, sprained ankle, dislocated thumb and cuts and bruises following a June 22 assault outside the Westin hotel in Indianapolis, according to an Indianapolis Police Department report.

The police report states that Whetstine and the suspect, Llewellyn Starks, 40, had been talking for a few minutes when Starks "became irate" and attacked Whetstine.

Detective Skye Griffin, the investigating officer, said on Thursday she had not yet interviewed Starks, but plans on doing so.

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