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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « Dopage, ô désespoir »

by Frédéric Sugnot

Justin Gatlin: the World’s Fastest Man? Doping and Despair!

Translated Friday 4 August 2006, by Patrick Bolland

Althletics : A new earthquake after the revelations about the doping of Floyd Landis in the Tour de France. The fastest man in the world in the 100-metres, Justin Gatlin, has been controled positive for the same substance, testosterone.

This is clearly the summer of discontent for top-level sport. A few days after the US cyclist Floyd Landis, winner of the Tour de France, controled positive for testosterone, his compatriot, Justin Gatlin, 100-metres Olympic Champion and world record holder, admitted on Saturday that he tested positive, following an anti-doping test. It came out in a simple press release: “I have been informed by the American Anti-Doping Agency that I tested positive for testosterone (1) or similar products at the ‘Kansas Relays’ race last 22 April”.

These are the simple facts. No-one seemed particularly suprised. Certainly not Dr Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, author of a dictionary on doping: “Why should we be shocked at the test results of Gatlin, since he ran faster than Ben Johnson in 1988 (9.79 seconds for the 100 metres) ... and we know his background ...”. Sharing the world’s fastest time in the 100 metres (9.77 seconds), Justin Gatlin ran 2/100ths of a second faster than the Canadian Ben Johnson,who tested positive for stanozol in 1988, just after he had won the 100-metres Olympic title at the Seoul Games.

Building up a defence

Like the cyclist Floyd Landis, Justin Gatlin feigned surprise. And his training team has been quick to set up a defense plan. His Jamaican trainer, Trevor Graham, is sure that his client has been entrapped: “We know who did this”, he said on a Jamaican television progamme. “We are trying to expose who they are ... Hoping we’ll be able to prove this, but we know who it was, and it was someone who was part of our structure.” Graham was refering to an employee who used to work in the Sprint Capitol USA (SCUSA) team. That, anyway, is the reolution to the mystery story being put out to divert attention. For the rest, the 24-year-old Gatlin is facing life-suspension since he had already been tested positive in 2001, while he was still an amateur, for a banned product, Aderall, which he took as a prescription drug. According the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules, the sprinter also risks losing his 100-metres world record, which he shares with the Jamaican Asafa Powell, since he ran this race after testing positive for testerone. The Olympic and World Champion tested positive on 22 April in the USA and he equalled Powell’s record in Doha in 12 May.

A plausible hypothesis

Just like Floyd Landis, Gatlin is now waiting for the results of a second test. But this time he won’t be able to question the methods, as the winner of the Tour de France did, used by the French Châtenay-Malabry drug-testing lab.

One of the most plausible hypotheses to account for his positive results is the use of food supplements, widespread in the United States. “More than 20% of the supplements being offered to athletes may contain substances that are banned by anti-doping legislation, without any information on the packaging”, according to Dorian Martinez, who set up the web-site www.dopage.com and is the founder of the label “Wall-Protect”, an anti-doping norm designed to provide food supplement guarantees for sports competitors.

This is a view strongly shared by Jacques de Ceaurriz, head of the French Châtenay-Malabry laboratory: “For sports enthusiasts, the internet is a door wide-open to temptation. All the more so since it has long been known that drug-traffickers have found a niche in food supplements.”

The summer is far from over. Gatlin may not be the last to be caught with his fingers in the testosterone cookie-jar.

Author’s note: (1) Banned since 1982, testosterone is the principal male sex hormone. Beyond its use for therapeutic purposes, it generates greater stength and muscular power.

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