Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 20 News List

US sprint star Gatlin accepts eight-year ban for doping

AFP , WASHINGTON

Olympic and World champion sprinter Justin Gatlin has accepted an eight-year ban for a second doping offence, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced yesterday.

The US joint world record holder over 100m had been facing a lifetime ban from the sport after testing positive for a banned anabolic drug, possibly testosterone, at a Kansas City meeting on April 22.

But USADA said that Gatlin had decided to accept the accuracy of the laboratory results and that it constituted a doping violation.

Along with the ban, Gatlin will lose the world record mark of 9.77 seconds he set in Doha on May 12 -- which he shared with Jamaican Asafa Powell.

"Gatlin has agreed to cooperate with USADA by providing information that may assist in USADA's anti-doping efforts," a statement from the drug-fighting agency said.

"In exchange for Gatlin's promise to cooperate and in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of his prior violation, USADA has agreed that the maximum period of suspension for this violation would be eight years," the statement added.

The agency said that the disgraced sprinter would still have the right to appeal to an arbritation panel in the next six months to have the ban reduced, but he cannot now argue that the test was faulty.

Gatlin had painted himself as a role model for the anti-doping movement, despite a positive test for an amphetamine in 2001, when he was still a student at the University of Tennessee.

He argued then that it was contained in a medication he was prescribed for attention deficit disorder and was reinstated before serving all of a two-year ban.

By agreeing to cooperate with USADA in the fight against drugs, Gatlin avoided a lifetime ban, but at 24 years old, his career as a top athletics star is still effectively over unless he wins a substantial reduction.

Gatlin himself announced his failed doping test on July 29, but insisted that he had never knowingly used any banned substance.

His controversial coach Trevor Graham hit back that Gatlin had tested positive for drugs due to the revenge actions of a masseur who applied testosterone cream on him without his knowledge.

The test that produced the positive result came just weeks before Gatlin matched Powell's 100m world record of 9.77 seconds at a meeting in Doha.

Gatlin is among an elite group of athletes -- including Americans Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene and Canadian Donovan Bailey -- to hold the world and Olympic titles along with the world record.

In addition to his 100m gold, he earned Olympic bronze in the 200m and a silver in the 4x100m relay in 2004.

Last year in Helsinki he added the 100m world title and also captured the 200m crown.

With his performance in Doha, he was briefly credited with sole possession of the coveted world record with a time of 9.76 seconds, but the time was later officially revised to 9.77 -- tying the mark Powell set in Athens on June 14, last year.

He had been scheduled to run a series of highly lucrative head-to-heads with Powell this summer, but for various financial and personal reasons they never managed to appear at the same meeting.

The USADA statement said that the ban on Gatlin would begin on August 15 and end "with credit given since the time Gatlin began serving a provisional suspension on July 25" on July 24 2014.

All his results subsequent to the failed test on April 22, including his world record run in May, will be scrapped, it added.

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