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Gatlin looks to "exceptional circumstances" for appeal

9 August 2006

Justin Gatlin plans to plead “exceptional circumstances” in a bid to beat the drug case against him.

The world and Olympic 100 metres champion faces a lifetime ban after testing positive for testosterone which constituted his second doping violation.

The joint world record holder was banned after an amphetamine was found in his system in 2001 but the suspension was overturned when it was accepted it had originated in medication for attention deficit disorder.

This, however, did not constitute an annulment meaning Gatlin faces the lifetime ban for a second offence.

Now the 24-year-old’s legal team have notified the United States Anti-Doping Agency [USADA] they are prepared for a review board to hear the case.

Cameron Myler, Gatlin’s lawyer, told the Mercury News: “We are trying to formulate what our exceptional circumstances are.”

The clause means sanctions can be either reduced or dropped if they determine a substance has entered the system through no fault of the athlete.

Myler claimed the team are still investigating the cause of Gatlin’s positive test, saying: “We certainly have some ideas but we are in the process of tracking down the facts.”

Trevor Graham, Gatlin’s coach, has already blamed a massage therapist for rubbing testosterone cream into the double world champion’s legs before the race at the Kansas Relays, although the masseur has denied the allegation. Gatlin’s legal team have also moved to distance themselves from such a claim.

Graham’s lawyer has called on the United States Olympic Committee to lift the ban they imposed last week preventing the Jamaican from using its training centres and facilities.

Graham has been under the spotlight after a number of his athletes tested positive for drugs with others under suspicion.

He was also the whistle blower who prompted the Balco scandal when he turned in a syringe to the authorities containing a hitherto unknown and thus undetectable substance which came to be known as THG, which Britain’s Dwain Chambers was exposed as using.

However, Joseph E Zeszotarski, his legal representative, insisted Graham would fight the ban, releasing a six-page statement which read: “Trevor will be pursuing all legal avenues to fight this restriction, should the USOC choose to pursue it.”

He added: “This has been nothing but innuendo and suspicion cast at Trevor."

“It should be remembered that one of the chief reasons that the issue of doping has come to the forefront in America is because of Trevor’s integrity and courage in turning in the sample that led to the Balco investigation. We offer Trevor’s integrity up against any of the false accusers.”

Zeszotarski also claimed his client had passed a lie-detector test where he denied giving performance-enhancing drugs to athletes which “provided affirmative evidence - that he is telling the truth.”

The USOC, however, insisted they would not be overturning their decision.

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