Drugs In Sport: Gatlin fears life ban after test shows high testosterone level

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The Independent Online

Justin Gatlin, the world and Olympic 100 metres champion, revealed yesterday that he had failed a drugs test after a relay race in Kansas City in April. Because of a past problem with a prescribed medicine, Gatlin could face a life ban if found guilty of this second offence.

"I have been informed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency that after a relay race I ran in Kansas City on 22 April, I tested positive for 'testosterone or its precursors'," Gatlin said in a statement. "I cannot account for these results, because I have never knowingly used any banned substance or authorised anyone else to administer such a substance to me."

The 24-year-old Gatlin, whose B sample test in July also produced an unusually high level of testosterone, faces a lifetime ban from the sport.

The positive test is the second by a major US athlete for testosterone in recent days. Floyd Landis, who won the Tour de France this month, said this week that he had tested positive for the male sex hormone. Landis, who has also denied doping, may receive the result of the test on his B sample tomorrow.

Gatlin was banned for two years after testing positive for an amphetamine in 200. He was given early reinstatement by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2002 but was told a second violation would lead to a life ban.

Gatlin's lawyer, Cameron Myler, said the sprinter was in shock when he first learned of the positive test in mid-June.

He ran in the US championships and retained his 100 metres title in Indianapolis. Gatlin, who tied Asafa Powell's 100 metres world record of 9.77sec, has not run since then.

Craig Masback, the head of USA Track and Field, expressed grave concern about Gatlin's test failure. "Justin has been one of the most visible spokespersons for winning with integrity in the sport of track and field, and throughout his career he has made clear his willingness to take responsibility for his actions," Masback said. "We hope Justin has not committed a doping offence, and we await the completion of the adjudication process."

Gatlin's previous positive test for an amphetamine came at the 2001 US junior championships. It was contained in prescription medication he had taken for 10 years to treat a form of attention deficit disorder.

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