In a press release dated January 2, 2008, the IAAF Noted that USADA has recommended a four year ban for Justin Gatlin, starting May 25, 2006. This would mean that Gatlin, one of the preeminent sprinters of his generation, would miss Beijing 2008, and be unable to defend his Athens championship, plus the Berlin World Championships in 2009. But, to this blogger, there is much more to the releases from the IAAF and USADA than may meet the eye....
In the IAAF press release (
newsId=42802.html), which merely reported the USADA findings,with a link to the
official USADA release, the IAAF news report finished with a note that the IAAF had not had time to make a response to the USADA press release.
This can be translated as the IAAF still reserves the right to make its own decision about the Gatlin decision. When Justin Gatlin, through his lawyers, admitted to a positive test, I was in London at the Norwich London GP. It was huge news, on CNN every fifteen minutes for the twenty-four hours.
Gatlin has kept pretty quiet for the past year, but that does not mean, according to the USADA release, that he was not busy. From the release, it notes that Gatlin wore a wire, and helped USADA in its investigations into BALCO, and the use of drugs in sports.
It was noted by USADA's arbitration panel that the extraordinary assistance of Gatlin was part of the reason why USADA has recoommended that the original eight year ban be dropped to four years. USA Track & Field, the governing body of the sport, would be the federation that would manage the ban.
What was also clear in this release and the decision was that Justin Gatlin and his supporters have some wiggle room to revisit his first positive test for amphetimines used to help control his ADD. Gatlin had taken medication until a few days before his testing at the age of 19, while he was a freshman in college.
My take? The Gatlin affair is far from over. Watch for some legal wheeling and dealings
over the next six months. There could still be a chance that Gatlin could compete in Beijing. What upsets me is that this whole imbroglio will color coverage of our sport in 2008.
For more information on drug testing, please check: http://www.usada.org