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World’s fastest man fails drug test

30 July 2006

Justin Gatlin Justin Gatlin
By Robin Scott-Elliot

Justin Gatlin, the world and Olympic 100m champion, faces a life ban after last night admitting he had failed a drugs test. The 24-year-old American sprinter released a statement after he was informed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency that he had tested positive for “testosterone or its precursors” after running a relay race in Kansas City in April.

The news came two days after cyclist Floyd Landis, another American and winner of this year’s Tour de France, was also revealed to have tested positive for unusual levels of testosterone. It signals another blow to the reputation of high-level sport as the world’s fastest man — Gatlin holds the record with Asafa Powell — and the world’s greatest endurance athlete fall under suspicion of winning through illegal and dishonest means. Gatlin’s statement said: “I cannot account for these results, because I have never knowingly used any banned substance or authorised anyone else to administer such a substance to me. Since learning of the positive test, I have been doing everything to find out what caused this to happen. I will continue to cooperate fully with the US anti-doping agency and hope that when all the facts are revealed it will be determined I have done nothing wrong.”

Gatlin had been due to run against Powell at Crystal Palace on Friday, but withdrew blaming a problem with his right calf muscle.

He had previously tested positive for an amphetamine five years ago at the US junior championship. It was later found to have been contained in a prescription medication he had taken for 10 years to treat a form of attention-deficit disorder. The International Association of Athletics Federations gave Gatlin early reinstatement from a two-year ban in July 2002 — but not an annulment of the test result and a second violation would mean a life ban.

“That experience made me even more vigilant to make certain that I do not come into contact with any banned substance for any reason whatsoever, because any additional anti-doping offence could mean a lifetime ban from the sport that I love,” Gatlin’s statement added. “It is simply not consistent with either my character or my confidence in my God-given athletic ability to cheat.”

Gatlin was a double world champion in Helsinki last year, at 100m and 200m, and is the reigning 100m Olympic champion. In May, he ran 9.76sec in Doha, only for the time to be rounded up to 9.77sec — the same mark as Powell — five days later.

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