Another American champion was hit with a shocking positive drug test Saturday, Olympic and world 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin. Gatlin said he has been informed that he tested positive for testosterone or other prohibited steroids, the same violation that, only two days ago, threw Floyd Landis' victory in the Tour de France into question.
Justin Gatlin wins the men's 100m event of the Reebok Grand Prix, in this June 3, 2006 photo photo in New York. Gatlin said Saturday he has been informed that he tested positive for testosterone or its precursors, the same positive test that has thrown Floyd Landis' victory at the Tour de France into question. [AP Photo]
Gatlin, who positioned himself as a leader in trying to prove track and field is a clean sport, said in a statement released through his publicist that the US Anti-Doping Agency informed him of the test taken after a relay race in Kansas in April.
He said he will cooperate with USADA "and hope that when all the facts are revealed it will be determined that I have done nothing wrong."
"I cannot account for these results, because I have never knowingly used any banned substance or authorized anyone else to administer such a substance to me," Gatlin said. "In the course of my entire professional career, I have been tested more than 100 times. ... All of the tests this season, including the out-of-competition and in-competition tests conducted just before and after the race in Kansas, were negative."
Gatlin, the co-world record holder with Jamaica's Asafa Powell in the 100, is coached by Trevor Graham, whose former pupils include Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones, both of whom have both been prominently mentioned in the BALCO steroids investigation. Several athletes coached by Graham have been suspended or banned for doping.
A person identifying himself as Graham's son answered Graham's phone and said the coach was not immediately available.
Gatlin's revelation came just days after Landis tested positive for a testosterone imbalance after his stirring comeback victory at the Tour de France. Landis claims his body's natural metabolism caused the result.
The test on the cyclist measured the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in his system and found an imbalance. Gatlin's test was different. Called a carbon-isotope ratio test, it is essentially a test that looks only at testosterone, not epitestosterone, and can determine whether the testosterone in a person's system is natural or unnatural.
In his statement, Gatlin said he tested positive for "testosterone or its precursors" "Precursors" is another term for anabolic steroids.
One of the loudest voices in the quest to clean up his sport, Gatlin he was "particularly sensitive to this issue" because he tested positive in college for a banned substance contained in Adderall, which he took to calm attention deficit disorder. He served a two-year ban in international competition after that infraction, meaning another positive test could result in a lifetime ban.
"That experience made me even more vigilant to make certain that I not come into contact with any banned substance for any reason whatsoever, because any additional anti-doping rule offense could mean a lifetime ban from the sport that I love," Gatlin said.
If Gatlin chooses, he can present the findings to an independent review board. After that, the case could go to arbitration and he would have the right to appeal the arbitration.
Asked about Gatlin's statement, USADA spokesman Carla O'Connell did not confirm knowledge of the test.
Later, USADA CEO Terry Madden released a statement that made no mention of Gatlin.
"USADA will not comment on the facts of any active case since the rules we follow allow for a full and fair process prior to the details of any case being made public," Madden said. "Anyone accused of a doping violation has a right to have his or her case determined on the evidence through the established process and not on any other basis."
USA Track and Field, however, acknowledged Gatlin's statement.
"USA Track & Field is gravely concerned that Justin Gatlin has tested positive for banned substances," USATF executive director Craig Masback said in a statement on the federation's Web site. "Justin has been one of the most visible spokespersons for winning with integrity in the sport of track and field, and throughout his career he has made clear his willingness to take responsibility for his actions."
US Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr said Gatlin's revelation "points out how insidious the problem of doing in sport has become."
"While this news is disappointing, it underscores the commitment we have made to protect the integrity of sport through clean competition," Scherr said. "No one, regardless of their stature, is above the system. We understand that Justin has been working with USADA, and would encourage him to continue doing so."