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Gatlin looking to help youngsters

23 December 2006
Sporting Actions

Banned Olympic champion sprinter Justin Gatlin has agreed to be a volunteer coach for the boys track team at his high school this spring.

The athletic director for Woodham High School said Tuesday that Gatlin has frequently donated his time and money to the team since graduating in 2000.

Gatlin, the world-record holder in the 100 meters, faces a suspension of up to eight years following a positive drug test for testosterone and other steroids at the Kansas Relays in April. His appeal is still pending.

He still shares 100-meter record of 9.77 seconds, but that will be erased if his doping penalty becomes official. Gatlin won the Olympic 100 gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games and the 100 and 200 at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki.

The Pensacola News Journal first reported Gatlin would help his old high school team.

"At this point, his future is uncertain but it could be resolved in the next year or so," Woodham AD Paul Bryan told The Associated Press. "In the meantime, we're in the last six months of this school's existence, and he has got the opportunity and time to spend a little more time with these kids."

The boys track team has about 35 members. How much time Gatlin will be able to give them will depend on his schedule, Bryan said.

"He's doing the same thing he's always done, he's just able to give a little more time,'' Bryan said. "He'll probably help with some workouts, sprint work, block work, where he sees something and can give encouragement. We're happy to have that."

Bryan said school district officials approved Gatlin's coaching.

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