Gatlin Agonistes, by Larry Eder


Here is the news bit that got me off on my newest rant:

No Gatlin at Trials (so far)

PENSACOLA (USA): Sprinter Justin Gatlin will be not allowed to compete at US Olympic Trials starting this weekend. As Pensacola News Journal informs, he got support but no relief Tuesday from a federal judge who rescinded his order allowing the defending 100-meter champion to compete in this weekend's Olympic track and field trials. Judge Lacey Collier said that while he believed Gatlin, a graduate of Woodham High School in Pensacola, "is being wronged," he lacked jurisdiction over the U.S. Olympic Committee to determine who is eligible for the trials. The former world 100- and 200-meter champion's only recourse appears to be with the Swiss Federal Court, Collier wrote in his seven-page order. Because the Swiss based CAS made the final ruling on him two weeks ago and IAAF confirmed his ban until July 24, 2010. But per latest informations, Gatlin's lawyer said his client will go to the federal circuit court in Atlanta on Wednesday to attempt to have the latest ruling against him overturned.

I remember sitting in the Athens stadium with my son, Adam. We were sitting with a group of Australian and Japanese coaches just above the 75 meter line for the 100 meters. Perfect angle to watch the race.

Adam had been to Olympic Trials, national champs before, but never the Olympics. He was fascinated ( well, once we got our seats, which had been resold a couple of times,
but that is another story) with the sprinters in the semi finals. And then, when there was a twenty minute hold up for the finals, I told him my picks for the race, one through five. He was surprised I did not pick Asafa Powell or Shawn Crawford. I pick Justin Gatlin. Justin had the presence of mind, the focus, and he ran well and won! It was an exciting moment. It was also a moment that I shared with my son, on the trip of a lifetime.

When I had to tell Adam that Justin had tested positive and that CNN was blasting it all over Europe in July 2006, Adam was just quiet. I think he was also a little sad. It was the second athlete he had admired who was caught up in a drug scandal.

When Adam was four, he got to meet Randy Barnes, who actually spent time with Adam, kicking around dirt in the shot ring at Cerritos after a competition. I can still remember watching all 6-8 of Randy and all 3 feet of Adam in the shot ring, kicking up sand and laughing. Afterwards, Randy gave me a two hour interview on how to tell when athletes were using steroids or not, based on their flexibility. I wanted to believe Randy was clean, liked the guy and again, felt terrible when he tested positive.

This morning, a friend woke me up with a phone call. He was upset about the Gatlin situation. Again, another Olympic Trials that will be marred by a drug cheat who is trying to get back into the Trials!

I am not sure what to call Mr. Gatlin. I will give him the benefit of the doubt on the ADD
drug in 2001. His spin doctors did not fight that back then, and now, after his 2006 debacle, it is in my mind, a very different story.

Try my take on this situation for a moment:

The facts are that Justin got caught cheating . His eight year punishment was cut to four because he supplied info to the boys at WADA and USADA. He even put himself in harms way and wore a wire in order to help WADA and USADA. That is admirable, whatever the reasons.

But, he cheated and he needs to serve his time. He has not. Gatlin and his supporters are involved in a last minute attempt that is nearly mastubatory. It is, well we know we did a bad thing, and we got caught, but the punishment now is way too long and the time before, when there was the benefit of the doubt we did not fight it, so we want our fair treatment..but, didn't he test positive? Then, there was cheating involved.

This is how drugs work. When one trains their butt off, the body needs to recover between those sessions in order for the training effect to take place. If a normal human, training hard, can workout had three days in a week, but an athlete on, say the seven drugs Dwayne Chambers was allegedly taking ( want to see some real stink, check out our friend, Victor Conte and his thirty minute chat fest on names all seven drugs that Chambers allegedly took).When one takes these drugs, they allow the person to recover abnormally fast, so if you get one more day a week of training, that is 52 days a year, 7 weeks, three days of benefits that a clean athlete is not getting. So, when six sprinters are within three tenths of second, don't think the temptation to take drugs is huge? When the difference between third in the 100 meters and sixth is $125k a year, or the difference between third and fourth in the 800 meters is a shoe contract and a half a second, does seven weeks make a difference.

The insinuation that drugs are everywhere hurts the sport. The fact is, drugs can not be everywhere because the COST MONEY. Unless your government, federation or you make enough to find your own BALCO in a mall, you are not getting any drugs that can come near standing up to drug testing. My educated guess is it takes about $60k a year to beat the best tests the WADA and USADA boys can handle. Which means that they are catching 90 to 95 percent of the idiots and 90 percent of the smart ones.

Part of the reason that Justin Gatlin needs to serve his time is deterence and shame. The shame that he feels must be terrible. Justin is not a bad person, but he did make some decisions that have hurt him and he needs to stand up and be responsible for his actions. But his example will stop other young sprinters from using.

Someone smarter than me noted how this hurts the seven hundred clean athletes in Eugene. My friend noted that the other athletes should refuse to run against him.
In this country we give people second chances but Only after the debt is repaid. Justin has to live with his scarlet letter. He cheated. He was caught. He needs to take responsibility for his actions.

Justin Gatlin is banned from European major meetings. That is a fact, as are all athletes with a two year or more ban for drugs.

Even footwear companies are considering not sponsoring former cheats.

Our sport is about competition, it is about history, it is, in the end only a footrace.

Justin Gatlin needs to be a real man and take his punishment. It is messy. It is painful. It is a lesson of life. Life is messy, and it does not always play out the way you expect. For Justin Gatlin, this was his life, and he made an error of judgment. In our society, that means that you pay the price of your error in judgement, or if you can say it, your screw up.

Justin Gatlin should let the athletes here in Eugene, Oregon who can run to run. The next nine days are to celebrate their hard work and dedication. It is not to discuss how another athlete caught for drug positive is fighting it in the courts.

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