Masseur denies using testosterone cream on Gatlin

Updated: August 3, 2006, 2:36 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- An Oregon massage therapist who worked with Olympian Marion Jones and other elite athletes denied using a cream containing testosterone on sprinter Justin Gatlin.

Christopher Whetstine, who is under contract to Nike, was drawn into the Gatlin doping scandal by the sprinter's coach, Trevor Graham.

Gatlin faces a lifetime ban after failing a drug test in April following a track meet in Lawrence, Kan.

Graham has contended Gatlin tested positive after a vengeful massage therapist used testosterone cream on the runner without his knowledge. In an Italian newspaper, Graham identified the massage therapist as Whetstine, who has a private practice in Eugene.

"Trevor Graham is not speaking on behalf of Justin Gatlin, and the statement about me is not true," Whetstine said Wednesday in a statement read over the phone by his attorney, Elizabeth Baker. "I have fully cooperated with the investigation into this matter."

Baker said Whetstine denies using a banned substance on Gatlin or "any other athlete."

Gatlin, the co-world record-holder in the 100 meters, acknowledged last weekend that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency informed him of a test indicating he had used testosterone or other steroids after a relay race in Kansas in April.

Gatlin has said he didn't know how steroids got into his system, and his attorney has distanced the runner from the comment by Graham, who has been involved with at least a half-dozen athletes who have received drug suspensions.

Over the years, Whetstine's clients have included entertainer Sean "Diddy" Combs, golfer Ben Crane and three of Graham's athletes -- Jones, Gatlin and sprinter Shawn Crawford, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 200 meters.

Whetstine worked with Jones from 1998 to 2001 and was her masseur for the Sydney Olympics, where she won five medals, three gold. Jones, who no longer trains with Graham, has also been dogged by doping allegations but has denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

Jones' ex-husband, shot-putter C.J. Hunter, said through attorney Angela DeMent that he has not had contact with Whetstine since 2000. However, Hunter, who retired from the sport after testing positive four times for steroids in 2000, did praise Whetstine as a massage therapist, DeMent said.

Whetstine also has provided his services for Nike-sponsored athletes at various events, said Dean Stoyer, a Nike spokesman, who would not reveal the length of Whetstine's contract or other details.

"We won't speak to the allegations made by Trevor Graham," or any other aspects of the matter, Stoyer said.

But Prefontaine Classic meet promoter Tom Jordan said he doubts the allegations against Whetstine.

"He really wants what's best for the athletes," Jordan said of Whetstine, who served for seven years as massage therapist for the annual elite meet at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field. "He is, in my view, considered one of the best in the world."

Don Butzner, an Oregon-based massage therapist who also works with athletes, said he was shocked by the allegations.

"Chris knows how to work with these athletes to win without that [performance-enhancing substances]," he said.

In 1995, Whetstine was sentenced to 36 months of probation and fined following a conviction for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, according to Tanna Tracewell, records supervisor for Lane County District Court.

Baker confirmed the conviction and said the substance was marijuana.

In 2002, Whetstine was disciplined by the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists for using chiropractic techniques he was not licensed for. He was put on supervised probation for six months.

Still, Patty Glenn, the board's executive director, said of Whetstine on Wednesday: "He's a good guy, as far as I'm aware. He certainly has built a real solid practice as a message therapist."

Whetstine is unavailable to speak to the media because he's recovering from a June assault in Indianapolis during the national track and field championships, Baker said Thursday.

Whetstine, 42, was hospitalized with a concussion, broken nose, sprained ankle, dislocated thumb and cuts and bruises following a June 22 assault outside the Westin hotel in Indianapolis, according to an Indianapolis Police Department report.

Whetstine told officers he might have briefly blacked out during the early morning attack.

The police report states that Whetstine and the suspect, Llewellyn Starks, 40, had been talking for a few minutes when Starks "became irate" and attacked Whetstine.

Whestine told officers he wanted charges filed against Starks, a former highly ranked long jumper.

Detective Skye Griffin, the investigating officer, told The Associated Press on Thursday she had not yet interviewed Starks, but plans on doing so once her investigation nears its end.

Griffin said it's not clear what Whetstine and Starks argued about.

"I'm still trying to determine that. There's been a lot of different information to come out, and I have yet to determine what the truth of the matter is. I'm not comfortable giving any of those reasons out yet," she said.

She said the charges would "most likely" be filed against Starks.

"I do anticipate some charges being filed, but at this time I don't know what charges or when that will take place," Griffin said.

If the allegations against Gatlin hold up, the Olympic and world champion would face a life ban and the loss of the world 100-meter record. Gatlin equaled Jamaican Asafa Powell's mark of 9.77 seconds in May, a month after the positive test.

He would keep his Athens gold medal in the 100 and world 100 and 200 titles from 2005.

Gatlin was suspended in 2001 after testing positive for an amphetamine found in medication he was taking for attention deficit disorder. Track's world governing body gave him early reinstatement but said the suspension remained on his record and he would face a life ban for any second violation.

The IAAF said it gave little credence to Graham's claim about Whetstine.

"We have a strict liability rule that what's in your body is your responsibility, so unless there was an independent witness who saw everything clearly, there really isn't a possibility that there would be something in that," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said.

Graham did not return several calls from The Associated Press on Wednesday to his home and office. His Raleigh-based attorney, Joe Zeszotarski, did not return messages left Wednesday.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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