Gatlin Begins His Sabotage Defense

Justin Gatlin finishes first at the Kansas Relays on April 22, 2006; he tested positive for doping at that meet.
Justin Gatlin finishes first at the Kansas Relays on April 22, 2006; he tested positive for doping at that meet. (By Mike Ransdell -- Associated Press)
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

As Olympic 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin began his defense of a positive drug test in an Atlanta courtroom yesterday, the massage therapist Gatlin had accused of possibly sabotaging him by rubbing a steroid-based cream on his legs called the allegation "utter and complete rubbish" in an e-mail to a running Web site.

Gatlin, who tested positive for testosterone or its precursors April 22, 2006, at a minor meet in Lawrence, Kan., told The Post on Sunday he could find no other explanation for the positive result, which medical experts told him was consistent with the application of a cream. The therapist, Chris Whetstine, is expected to testify at the hearing, which is scheduled to conclude today.

"Why would I sabotage the best job I ever had?" Whetstine said in the e-mail, which was posted on Letsrun.com. "And besides, I offered myself for polygraph testing to Gatlin's investigators, the federal government, and [the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] from the very beginning."

Gatlin's attorney, John P. Collins, declined to comment on any aspect of the hearing other than to say, "I'm looking forward to questioning Mr. Whetstine tomorrow."

Jeanette Gatlin, the sprinter's mother, had previously told The Post that Gatlin's legal team never agreed to pay for a polygraph because they believed such evidence would be inadmissible in court and they suspected Whetstine was skilled in passing the tests.

The 25-year-old Gatlin, who faces a possible eight-year ban from track and field, has said he never knowingly took any drugs or allowed any drugs to be administered to him. He said his cooperation in a federal steroids probe -- which included wearing wiretaps to record phone calls with his coach, Trevor Graham, who was indicted last fall on charges of lying to federal agents -- and extensive scrutiny of his drug-test results demonstrate his innocence.

-- Amy Shipley


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