Gatlinā??s ban reduced to four years
Jan 02: The New Year brought a big sigh of relief for the reigning Olympic 100m champion, Justin Gatlin, who has been facing eight years suspension after failing a drugs test. His doping ban reduced to four years on Tuesday, but not enough to make him eligible to defend his Olympic 100m title this year.
The 25-year-old Gatlin was being banned for eight years, but his appeal to an arbitration panel in the United States yesterday saw him suspended for half that time. Gatlin tested positive on April 22 2006 and with this decision he could now return in time to run in London in 2012.
The traces of prohibited steroid testosterone and its precursors were found in a sample Gatlin gave at the Kansas City Relays in April 2006 but the results had not been announced by the time he ran 9.77sec in Doha, Qatar, three weeks later, equalling Asafa Powell's world record. The Jamaican has since lowered the mark to 9.74sec.
Gatlin, who won both the 100m and 200m at the world championships in Helsinki in 2005, had previously tested positive while at college in Tennessee in 2001 for an amphetamine he used for attention-deficit disorder.
He was banned for two years before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) reduced that to one, but his second failure left him open to the strictest of penalties.
Gatlin, who held himself up as a role model for clean competition before his positive test, claims he does not know how steroids got into his system before the test in April 2006. He accused Oregon massage therapist Chris Whetstine of rubbing a steroid cream on him to trigger the positive test, but Whetstine has repeatedly denied the allegations.
The panel still left open the possibility of a further reduction in the ban.
The three-member panel unanimously ruled Gatlin committed a doping offense when he tested positive for excessive testosterone in April 2006, but the sprinter's first doping offense in 2001 troubled the team.
If that doping violation were erased, which is likely on the cards, it would make Gatlin's 2006 case his first offense, clearing his way for a further relaxation in the ban. First doping offenses often result in a two-year ban, which would make him eligible to run in May a month prior to the U.S. Olympic trials.
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