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Justin Gatlin fires coach, denies doping

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World 100m champion Justin Gatlin fired coach Dennis Mitchell following an undercover investigation reported Tuesday that appeared to show people linked to the sprinter offering to supply performance-enhancing drugs.

“I was shocked and surprised to learn that my coach would have anything to do with even the appearance of these current accusations,” was posted on Gatlin’s Instagram. “I fired him as soon as I found out about this.”

The IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit said it is investigating the allegations in conjunction with the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The report was published in Tuesday’s edition of British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

“These allegations are very serious,” said Brett Clothier, head of the AIU, “and strike at the heart of the integrity of athletics.”

IAAF President Seb Coe said the allegations are “extremely serious.”

The newspaper reported that Mitchell and a track agent, Robert Wagner, met undercover reporters at a training camp in Florida and offered to supply and administer testosterone and human growth hormone for an actor training for a film, for a fee of $250,000.

The newspaper said Mitchell and Wagner were secretly recorded saying the use of banned substances in track was widespread.

Wagner called the newspaper report “deeply flawed” and said it was based on things he said that were not true.

“I made up the comments to impress them, led on by a make-believe scenario,” Wagner said in a statement to The Associated Press. “It was just big talk. I did not actually source or supply the substances the reporters asked for but stupidly claimed I could.”

Wagner also said he notified the Athletics Integrity Unit of the situation four weeks ago.

The 35-year-old Gatlin, who also won the 2004 Olympic 100m, previously served two doping bans.

“I am not using and have not used PEDs,” was posted on Gatlin’s Instagram. “All legal options are on the table as I will not allow others to lie about me like this. I have no further comments as it is now a legal matter. They will next hear from my lawyer.”

Coe said the IAAF has started to focus on the “influences that surround athletes” and stressed that all support personnel are bound by the governing body’s anti-doping code and integrity code of conduct.

Gatlin served a four-year doping ban from 2006 to 2010 after testing positive for excessive testosterone.

He returned to competition, taking Olympic 100m bronze in 2012 and silver in 2016 behind the now-retired Usain Bolt. He has said he plans to go for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Gatlin reportedly worked under Mitchell since November 2011.

Mitchell sprinted in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics and was hit with a two-year ban in 1999 and testified that his coach, Trevor Graham, coerced him into taking growth hormone.

Gatlin was coached by Graham From September 2002 through his 2006 suspension. Graham, the disgraced former coach of Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery, was heavily involved in the BALCO drug scandal.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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IOC: ‘More exciting initiatives’ for Korean unity in PyeongChang

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Games and promised that “much more exciting initiatives” promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

“Watch this space,” International Olympic Committee presidential spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press in an interview, a day before a crucial meeting of Korean delegations at Olympics headquarters in Lausanne.

He declined to elaborate, saying the decisions would come Saturday.

Referring to a detailed peace-making agreement between the rival countries announced Thursday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, including a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament, Adams said it was “great … but these are discussions” — meaning the IOC had not yet given the deal the final green light.

“I can tell you that there will also be some much more exciting initiatives coming through as well tomorrow,” he added.

Provided that the IOC finalizes the deal, it would mark the first time the two National Olympic Committees would be competing together in a single team.

Some have questioned the fine print of the agreement announced by the two Koreas, saying it gives the combined hockey squad a far larger roster than any other national team.

Asked how the IOC planned to maintain the integrity of the sport, Adams said: “People would say that these are exceptional circumstances, and we need exceptional measures.”

“This is about the Olympic spirit,” Adams added. “And the Olympic spirit is about nations competing, athletes competing, and we will do our best make sure that it sends a signal that sport can improve the world.”

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Julia Mancuso skis final race dressed as Wonder Woman (video)

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Julia Mancuso bid farewell like only she could — with a tiara, cape and Wonder Woman suit.

The most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals announced Friday morning that today’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo would be the last race of her career.

More on Mancuso’s retirement, career and immediate future here.

She raced Friday as her nickname — “Super Jules” — and coasted to the bottom 18 seconds slower than winner Sofia Goggia.

Afterward, U.S. Ski Team members sprayed her with champagne and lifted her up in the finish corral.

Mancuso chose an appropriate venue for her last race.

She notched her first World Cup podium in Cortina in January 2006, then won the Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, four weeks later.

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