Saturday, January 5, 2008

Justin Gatlin Can’t Outrun Ban

Sprinter Justin Gatlin

Earlier this week, Justin Gatlin lost his bid to return to the sport, which means he’s likely lost his career in track and field entirely.

Can we all say it out loud: “Who cares?” Justin Gatlin’s sentence was reduced to four years from eight years for testing positive in April 22, 2006. That seems like about as much as he should try to expect from a sport that he willfully disgraced.

The 25-year-old sprinter will not be able to defend his 100-meter title gold at the Beijing Olympics. Too bad, so sad. He maybe should’ve thought twice before greedily using performance-enhancing drugs for short-term gain. Oh wait – he did think twice – it was his SECOND infraction! He’d been banned from international competition for two years in 2001 for testing positive for a stimulant in his ADD meds at his first major U.S. meet.

You can’t blame U.S. arbitrators for taking a hard line in their decision. They explained that they could not go easy on Gatlin because this was his second drug offense.

Gatlin’s rather bizarre legal defense was that he was the victim of sabotage when a massage therapist rubbed testosterone cream on his leg in revenge for not getting a bonus in 2005. Ummm, right.

A second offense could have meant a lifetime ban. Justin was given a reduced sentence for secretly-tape recording his former coach, Trevor Graham, to aid a federal steroid investigation.

His coach, Trevor Graham, is at the center of the BALCO steroid storm as several of the athletes he’s been associated with have been involved in recent doping scandals. Most notable of these is Marion Jones, who confessed to using drugs before pleading guilty in October to lying to federal investigators.

The world is to believe that this is all some terrible mistake. Gatlin’s positive test was not his fault. His masseuse was pissed off and spiked the massage oil. He was coached by the architect of track doping, but he wasn’t involved. This sounds very similar to the Marion Jones defense, except she finally stopped running from the truth and admitted her guilt.

The story does not add up. Justin failed to meet his burden of proof—maybe he should start telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Remember today's lesson– always tip your masseuse generously!

By Jay Hicks, aka Track Evangelist

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