Pressure on for Gatlin to explain positive test

Updated: July 31, 2006, 4:06 PM ET
Associated Press

While his coach claimed Justin Gatlin's positive drug test was a result of sabotage, the leader of the World Anti-Doping Agency on Sunday called for the U.S. sprinter to be banned for "up to life" if the results are confirmed.

Other Graham athletes suspended or
investigated in doping scandals
Trevor Graham, coach of Olympic and world 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin, has worked with several athletes who were suspended or investigated in doping cases:

Justin Gatlin: Gatlin tied Asafa Powell's world record of 9.77 seconds in the 100 in May. He won the 100 at the 2004 Olympics and 100 and 200 at the 2005 world championships. He also finished third in the 200 and won silver with the 4x100 relay team at Athens. Gatlin said Saturday he tested positive for testosterone after a relay race in Kansas in April. If found guilty, he faces a lifetime ban for a second offense. In college, he tested positive for a banned substance contained in medication for attention deficit disorder. His original two-year ban was reduced by the IAAF.
Marion Jones: Jones won five medals, including three gold, at the 2000 Olympics. Ex-husband and banned shot-putter C.J. Hunter and BALCO founder Victor Conte have both alleged she used performance-enhancing substances. She has never tested positive and firmly denied all accusations but has been under scrutiny in BALCO probe. Former boyfriend Tim Montgomery, the father of her child, was banned on evidence in the BALCO scandal without failing a test.
Tim Montgomery: Montgomery ran 9.78 to break the 100 world record in September 2002, shaving 0.01 off Maurice Greene's time. He was charged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in the BALCO scandal despite never failing a test. He received a two-year ban, was stripped of his world record and retired.
Dennis Mitchell: Mitchell won gold with the U.S. 4x100 relay team at the 1992 Olympics and bronze in the 100. He also won a 4x100 relay silver medal at Atlanta in 1996. In 1998, he was banned for two years after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone.
C.J. Hunter: Hunter, the ex-husband of Marion Jones, won gold in the shot put at the 1999 world championships. He failed four tests for the steroid nandrolone in 2000 and missed the Sydney Olympics. He retired and was suspended for two years in 2001.
Jerome Young: Young won gold with the 4x400 U.S. relay team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He was stripped of his medal after it was revealed he tested positive for nandrolone in 1999. Young, the world 400 champion in 2003, was banned for life in 2004 after testing positive for EPO.
Alvin Harrison: Harrison won gold as part of U.S. relay teams at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Though he never failed a test, he accepted a four-year ban in October 2004 after admitting using EPO, among other performance-enhancing drugs, in the BALCO scandal.
Calvin Harrison: Twin brother of Alvin, he won Olympic gold in the 4x400 U.S. relay team at Sydney 2000. He was suspended for two years in August 2004 after his second doping violation. He was found guilty of using the stimulant modafinil at the U.S. championships in June 2003. He also tested positive for the stimulant pseudoephedrine at the 1993 U.S. junior indoors and served a three-month ban.
Michelle Collins: Collins won the 200 titles at the 2003 world indoor and U.S. championships. She testified before the BALCO grand jury and her eight-year ban was reduced to four. USADA charged her with doping -- including use of the steroid THG and EPO -- based on patterns observed in her blood and urine tests, and she was stripped of her titles.
Patrick Jarrett: The Jamaican sprinter, the only man to beat Maurice Greene in 2001, was banned for two years in 2001 after testing positive for steroid stanozolol at his national trials.
-- The Associated Press

Gatlin's coach, Trevor Graham, told The Washington Post on Sunday that the Olympic and world champion and co-world-record holder in the 100 meters was the victim of a setup by a massage therapist. Graham told the newspaper for a story posted on its Web that the massage therapist rubbed a testosterone cream on Gatlin without the sprinter's knowledge.

Graham declined to name the massage therapist, saying he did not want to jeopardize the case.

"We know who the person is who actually did this," Graham told the Post by phone from Raleigh, N.C., the home base of his Sprint Capitol team. "Justin is devastated. Myself, too. We're extremely [upset] right now. We are trying to go out and make sure we can prove his innocence, and we hope this individual has the guts to come forward and say he did it."

On Saturday, Gatlin acknowledged he had been informed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he had tested positive for testosterone or other steroids after a relay race in Kansas in April. The revelation came just two days after Tour de France champion Floyd Landis' victory was thrown into question for allegations of similar doping violations.

Gatlin said he did not know why the test came back positive and promised cooperation with USADA, as it continues with the case.

Gatlin's connection with Graham, however, is viewed as problematic. Gatlin has long positioned himself as a champion of drug-free competition in a sport dogged by problems, while Graham is a key figure in the BALCO investigation and has coached several athletes who have tested positive for steroids.

Gatlin's attorney, Cameron Myler, said she and the sprinter had ideas about how his drug tests came up positive, but she would not get into details and said she did not condone Graham's allegations.

If Gatlin is found guilty, his world record would be stripped. He tied Jamaican Asafa Powell's mark (9.77 seconds) in the 100 meters in May, after the positive test.

Gatlin would also be banned for life, the standard discipline for a second positive test. The head of WADA, Dick Pound, called for such a penalty.

"He needs to be banned for up to life," Pound said in an interview on BBC Radio Five Live. "There may be some extenuating circumstances to come out, but I think if he just continues to come out with some bland denial that, 'I never did anything, I can't imagine how this result occurred,' that will not help him when it comes to sentencing.

"If they can find someone who did, in fact, spike it, then it is for them to prove but short of something like that I think he has a very serious problem."

WADA bylaws do provide relief for accused athletes who can prove they have been victims of sabotage, although the burden of proof is steep.

The International Association of Athletics Federation said in a statement Sunday that Gatlin will be suspended for life if his positive drug tests -- both his 'A' and 'B' samples came back positive -- are confirmed. Gatlin was suspended for two years in 2001 after testing for illegal substances, the result of taking medication to control attention deficit disorder.

"If the USADA procedure concludes by confirming the violation, the sanction under IAAF rules will be a life ban," the IAAF said.

Gatlin's case next goes in front of a review panel. If the positive test is upheld, Gatlin could then take the case to arbitration, which could be his best chance to prove he was sabotaged, if that's the course he pursues.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press