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Jamaican-born coach Graham faces two-year ban

2 August 2006

Trevor Graham (Image of Sport) Trevor Graham (Image of Sport)
By Gary Smith

American legend Michael Johnson, a five-time Olympic mediallist, said Jamaican-born coach Trevor Graham, the man in charge of American sprinter Justin Gatlin, should be banned from coaching track and field, following the latest hiccup in his training camp, which saw another athlete being tested positive for doping.

In a report on Saturday, Gatlin, the World and Olympic champion over 100-metres and the joint-world record holder with Jamaican Asafa Powell, confirmed he had failed a drugs test after a relay race in Kansas in April, which saw Johnson putting the heat on Graham's North Carolina camp that also includes Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford and Jamaica's former sprint double champion Dwight Thomas.

"Graham should be banned for life due to his involvement with an alarming number of athletes who have tested positive while training under him," Johnson told the Daily Telegraph.

"Unfortunately, there is no rule in place to deal with coaches like him. And until there is, we might continue to see athletes cheating and damaging the sport."

Johnson, who destroyed the 200m world record at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, blames Gatlin for the situation he finds himself in after he chose to continue to be guided by the Jamaican, whose record in doping scandals is no secret.

"Graham has had several athletes who have tested positive or been banned from track and field. Yet Gatlin has continued his association with Graham knowing it would probably taint him."

"Even if Gatlin is innocent, he will be suspected forever and is about to see the danger of his continued association with Graham," Johnson added.

Following the news of Gatlin's failed test, Graham said his camp had been sabotaged and would love the guilty party to come forward and make the situation known to the public so as to get both he and his athletes' reputation back.

"We know who the person is who actually did this," an angry Graham told the Washington Post. "We are trying to make sure we can prove his (Gatlin's) innocence, and we hope this individual has the guts to come forward and say he did it."

However, Nick Davies, a spokesman for the sport's governing body, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said there were little credence to Graham's claim.

"We have a strict liability rule that what's in your body is your responsibility, so unless there was an independent witness who saw everything clearly there really isn't a possibility that there would be something in that," Davies said.

If guilty, Graham could face a two-year ban from coaching, while Gatlin could face a life ban and be stripped of the 9.77 seconds world 100-metre record he shares with rival Powell.

"Once we have enough evidence to prove it, then we have the power to prosecute him (Graham). He would face a two-year suspension that is in line with the regulations of our anti- doping code."

Caribbean Net News was unable to get comments from Powell about the current probe as it was said that he would refuse to comment on the issue until everything was firmly settled.

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