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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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I'll challenge ban, says Gatlin

By unknown | Jan 04, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin is to challenge his ban for failing a drugs test in 2006.

The 25-year-old's eight-year ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) was cut to four years after an appeal earlier this week.

"I know in my heart I haven't done anything wrong," Gatlin told the Washington Post. "I have been robbed. I have been cheated of an opportunity to finish my career."

Gatlin's attorney John Collins said: "We are going to have to continue to fight because Justin has not done anything wrong."

He added that the athlete's options included appealing to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) or filing a federal lawsuit.

Usada confirmed an arbitration panel had voted 2-1 for a four-year ban meaning Gatlin, who also failed a test in 2001, will not be able to race until May 24 2010.

The American, who had expected to be able to defend his Olympic crown in Beijing, has accepted testing positive but claims he never knowingly used banned substances.

Gatlin, the 2005 world 100m and 200m champion, gave a positive test for testosterone at the low-level Kansas Relays in April 2006.

It was his second failed drugs test and, under the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code, he should have been given a lifetime suspension.

But Usada, in exchange for Gatlin agreeing to cooperate with its anti-doping campaign and in recognition of the exceptional circumstances of his first failure, imposed an eight-year ban, although the athlete decided to appeal against the length of the suspension.

He failed his first test in 2001 when amphetamines were found in his samples at the US Junior Championships. But it was accepted that medicine he had been taking for 10 years to control attention-deficit disorder was the reason for the failed test.

Gatlin could press his case to the IAAF that an earlier doping violation in his career should not be counted against him and his ban should be reduced.

If the panel treated the 2006 violation as a first offence and cut the ban to two years, he could be reinstated in May, giving him time to qualify for the US Olympic Athletics Trials from 27 June.

"They've taken away everything I've worked hard for," Gatlin added.

"I'm a fighter and I've been a fighter from the very beginning and I'm going to continue to fight.

"I feel like I got stuck in a bank that was being robbed and then they accused me of robbing the bank." - BBC


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