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Embattled Justin Gatlin denies cheating

Embattled sprint king Justin Gatlin, who had already vowed to fight an eight-year doping ban, said he expects to be exonerated.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2006 13:45 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Embattled sprint king Justin Gatlin, who had already vowed to fight an eight-year doping ban, has again insisted he "never knowingly used any banned substance," and said he expects to be exonerated.

In a statement released on Friday through his publicist, Gatlin insisted that "cheating in any form is completely contrary to who I am as an athlete and a person."

And he reiterated that he would fight the US Anti-Doping Agency's bid to impose an eight-year ban in the wake of his positive test for elevated levels of testosterone at the Kansas Relays in April.

"Contrary to what has been reported, I have not agreed to any penalties whatsoever," Gatlin said. "I expect when the process is concluded that this entire matter will be resolved favorably."

Gatlin is among an elite group of athletes - including Americans Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene and Canadian Donovan Bailey - to hold the 100m world and Olympic titles along with the world record. Although his world record-tying time of 9.77sec, set in May, stands to be wiped out by the doping charge.

That echoed the comments of his attorney Camerone Myler, who told AFP on Wednesday that although Gatlin did not dispute the test result, he still planned to pursue arbitration in the case.

"USADA has announced the sanction it intends to seek, but Justin has not accepted that recommendation and will proceed to arbitration," Myler said.

"He will argue that 'exceptional circumstances' existed in this situation that justify a significantly better result than eight years.

"Our goal is to have Justin back on track running as soon as possible."

Gatlin's statement on Friday came amid reports that athletics wear giant Nike had suspended its endorsement contract with him and dropped his coach Trevor Graham.

Nike spokesman Dean Stoyer declined to elaborate to the New York Times on why Nike was severing ties with Graham.

"I cant divulge the details," Stoyer told the newspaper. "All I can say is were terminating the contract."

Graham, also the former coach of embattled sprint star Marion Jones, has come under scrutiny in the wake of doping convictions of several of his athletes.

Earlier this month the US Olympic Committee banned Graham from its facilities, and soon afterward the International Association of Athletics Federations announced an investigation of Graham, who also trained Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Michelle Collins and Tim Montgomery and Patrick Jarrett, who have all received doping suspensions.

But Graham's lawyer Joseph Zeszortarski responded angrily to Nike's move.

"There is absolutely no basis for Nike to terminate Trevor's contract," Zeszotarski told the New York Times.

"The contract cannot legally be terminated based upon innuendo and suspicion. We have contacted Nike regarding the matter and are awaiting their response. We hope to avoid having to take legal action but will do so if necessary."

First Published: Aug 29, 2006 13:45 IST