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Gatlin to face arbitration panel

16 February 2007

World and Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin has requested an arbitration hearing on doping charges.

The 25-year-old tested positive for testosterone in April 2006 and faces a suspension of up to eight years.

He accepted he had committed a doping violation in order to earn the right to challenge the length of the ban.

"Justin looks forward to demonstrating he never knowingly violated any anti-doping rules," said Gatlin's lawyer John Collins.

"This is just the next step in the process."

"He continues to work with anti-doping authorities in eradicating doping in sport."

No date has been set for the hearing as yet, but US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) rules require a hearing to be held no later than three months after an arbitration panel is selected.

"When Justin Gatlin accepted a positive test and a doping offence (in August), part of the agreement was that he had the right, if he chose, to challenge only the eight-year suspension," said USADA's senior managing director Travis Tygart."

"He has given his intent to USADA before Friday's deadline that he intends to do that through the established arbitration process."

Gatlin, who has insisted he did not know how a banned substance entered his body, gave a positive test at the Kansas Relays last year.

It was his second failure and under the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code, should have constituted a lifetime ban.

But USADA, in exchange for Gatlin agreeing to cooperate with its anti-doping campaign and in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of his prior violation, stated the maximum suspension would be eight years.

He first test failure was in 2001 when amphetamines were found in his samples at the USA Junior Championships.

But it was accepted that medicine he had been taking for 10 years to control attention-deficit disorder was the reason for the failed test.

Gatlin was suspended for two years, but the world governing body the IAAF reinstated him after one year.

He has not competed since winning the 100m at the US national championships in June last year, but has reportedly trained with two NFL American Football teams.

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