Olympic champ Gatlin says he failed drug test in April

Updated: July 30, 2006, 2:51 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Reigning Olympic and world 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin said Saturday he has been informed that he tested positive for testosterone or its precursors.

"Precursors" is another term for anabolic steroids.

"I have been informed by the United States Anti-doping Agency that after a relay race I ran in Kansas City on April 22, I tested positive for 'testosterone or its precursors,' " Gatlin said in a statement.

Gatlin's attorney, Cameron Myler, told Reuters in a telephone call from New York, "It is unfortunate, but it is true."

Myler also confirmed that the 24-year-old Gatlin's "B" sample was tested in July and again showed an unusually high level of testosterone. The New York Times also reported that both samples tested positive. The sprinter now faces a lifetime ban from the sport.

Gatlin positioned himself as a leader in trying to prove track and field is a clean sport.

"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 at 100 meters, 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.

In an interview on WRAL-TV in North Carolina, Graham said Gatlin doesn't accept supplements from anyone.

"He's got his own nutritional supplements that he goes out and buys," Graham said. "He will not trust anyone to take anything from him, not his parents, his coach, not anyone."

Gatlin said 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 tests.

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."

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Jim Scherr said Gatlin's revelation "points out how insidious the problem of doping 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."

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.