August 23, 2006


Eight-year ban for Gatlin


The Associated Press
Justin Gatlin reacts after winning the gold medal in the 100-meters at the 2004 Olympics. Gatlin was given an eight-year ban by theUSADA Tuesday due to positive drug tests.

AP National Writer

Justin Gatlin chose to cooperate with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a move that could help the sprinter’s reputation but still imperils his eligibility for the Beijing Olympics.
USADA handed down an eight-year ban to Gatlin on Tuesday, the result of an agreement in which Gatlin accepts his positive tests for testosterone or other steroids but retains his right to appeal to an arbitration panel.
Despite the proactive stance and upcoming appeal by a runner who has championed the cause of drug-free competition, Gatlin’s Olympic hopes are in jeopardy. Even if his suspension were reduced to two years — a possibility if arbitrators agree with his arguments — it wouldn’t be in time for the 2008 Olympic Trials.
“We’re shooting for something way less than two years,” said Gatlin’s attorney, Cameron Myler. “The goal is to have him back on the track as soon as possible.”
World Anti-Doping Agency code calls for second-time offenders to receive a lifetime ban. The eight-year penalty was handed down because Gatlin’s first positive drug test, five years ago, was deemed an honest mistake and because he promised to cooperate with other investigations being conducted by doping authorities.
It was a small compromise by USADA, considering Gatlin is 24 and would be too old to compete when the ban is over. The Olympic and world champion will also lose the world record he tied in May when he ran the 100 meters in 9.77 seconds
And when he appeals for a lesser penalty — some time in the next six months — he cannot argue the test was faulty.
“To his credit, it’s recognition that the science is reliable,” USADA general counsel Travis Tygart told The Associated Press. “Instead of wasting a bunch of resources attempting to create smoke where there’s not any, he’s acknowledging the accuracy of the positive test, and in exchange for his agreement to cooperate, we’ve recognized the nature of his first offense.”
The first offense occurred while Gatlin was in college. He stopped taking medicine to treat attention-deficit disorder a few days before competition, but it didn’t clear his system. He received a two-year ban for that test, which was reduced by a year because of the “exceptional circumstances” of the offense.
“The nature of Gatlin’s first offense for use of his medication puts this violation in a unique category,” USADA chief executive officer Terry Madden said.
Gatlin has said he didn’t know how steroids got into his system this time.
One of his attorneys, John Collins, said Gatlin would spell out his case at the arbitration hearing. He wouldn’t discuss strategy.
“The last time this happened, he went to the panel and explained he neither cheated nor intended to cheat,” said Collins, who helped get that first ban reduced. “This time, we’ll explain the full stack of circumstances and everything around it and, hopefully, we’ll get a similar result.”
He said the circumstances “indicate he deserves something far less than eight years, if anything.”
Collins wouldn’t confirm the argument would be based on claims by Gatlin’s coach, Trevor Graham, who has contended Gatlin tested positive after a vengeful massage therapist used testosterone cream on the runner without his knowledge. Graham has been involved with at least a half-dozen athletes who’ve received drug suspensions and has been barred from U.S. Olympic Committee training sites.
The leader of USA Track and Field called Gatlin’s case “a setback for our sport.”
“While we are glad Justin has taken responsibility for his positive test and will cooperate in USADA’s anti-doping efforts, we are sorely disappointed in him,” USATF chief executive officer Craig Masback said in a statement.
USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth, meanwhile, said the penalty can be_a positive.
“Since becoming an elite-level athlete, Justin has talked about the importance of eradicating doping in sport,” Ueberroth said. “By acknowledging his doping positive and agreeing to work with USADA, Justin now has an opportunity to put those words into action. He can play a meaningful role in solving a problem that is reaching a crisis level in American sport.”
USADA looks at this as a significant compromise.
The policing organization has a history of offering leniency to those who help in its fight against doping. Though the agency doesn’t name names, Gatlin could possibly help USADA by providing information on Graham, who has denied any direct involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.
“He accepted liability,” Tygart said. “He agreed not to raise technical arguments or frivolous defenses. He has an opportunity to go to a panel of arbitrators and argue exceptional circumstances.”



Yanks, Bosox losers out west

By The Associated Press
After the New York Yankees’ epic five-game sweep against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, both teams opened West Coast trips with one-run losses.
Adrian Beltre homered twice, including a ninth-inning drive off Ron Villone that gave Seattle a 6-5 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night and stopped the Mariners’ 11-game losing streak.
“It feels great ... especially with the situation we were in and the team we were playing,” Beltre said.
New York had two on with two outs in the ninth, but Julio Mateo_(9-4) struck out Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees’ AL East lead remained a season-high 6 1/2 games over the second-place Red Sox.
“We spoiled ourselves winning all the games ... and figuring every game was a slam dunk,” manager Joe Torre said.
At Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels beat the Red Sox 4-3. Juan Rivera homered and Garret Anderson drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the seventh off Kason Gabbard (0-1), called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Boston has lost six straight for the first time since a nine-game skid from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4, 2001. The Red Sox remained four games back of the Chicago White Sox, who lead the wild-card race.
Angels 4, Red Sox 3: Vladimir Guerrero doubled twice and scored the deciding run, helping the Angels (67-59) improve to a season-best eight games over .500.
Tigers 4, White Sox 0: Kenny Rogers (13-6) gave up four hits and walked only one over seven innings as the Tigers (81-45) boosted their AL Central lead over second-place Chicago to 7 1/2 games and ensured their first non-losing season since 1993.
Visiting Chicago, which got five hits, has lost six of eight. The White Sox lead the wild-card race by a half-game over Minnesota, which plays at Chicago this weekend. Mark Buehrle (10-11) allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3_innings.
Orioles 6, Twins 3: Rookie Nick Markakis homered in the first, third and fifth innings off Carlos Silva_(8-11) at Camden Yards. Seeking to become the 16th player in major league history to hit four in a game, he hit a short fly ball to left in the sixth against Willie Eyre.
Blue Jays 4, Athletics 3: A.J. Burnett won his fourth straight start and Vernon Wells homered at Toronto.
Before the game, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he overreacted when he tangled with Ted Lilly near the dugout during Monday’s game. The A’s tied an Oakland record for biggest comeback victory by rallying from a 8-0 deficit on Monday, but their win was overshadowed by the scuffle between Lilly and Gibbons.
Devil Rays 5, Rangers 3: Rocco Baldelli and Ben Zobrist hit consecutive sacrifice flies off Vicente Padilla for a 4-3 lead in the seventh at Tampa Bay. Travis Lee extended the lead with an eighth-inning homer off Ron Mahay.
Shawn Camp (5-1) struck out two in a perfect seventh.
With the bases loaded in the ninth, Seth McClung retired Michael Young on a game-ending flyout for his second save.
Royals 5, Indians 2: Mark Teahen was 4-for-4 with a home run and two doubles, and scored the go-ahead run at Kansas City on catcher Victor Martinez’s throwing error.