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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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USA Gymnastics settles sex abuse lawsuit

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — USA Gymnastics has reached a confidential settlement in a Georgia lawsuit that spurred a newspaper investigation into the organization’s practices for reporting child abuse.

A former gymnast filed the lawsuit against USA Gymnastics in 2013, alleging that the organization that trains Olympians received at least four warnings about coach William McCabe, who videotaped her in various states of undress.

The lawsuit revealed that USA Gymnastics wouldn’t forward child sex abuse allegations to authorities unless they were in writing and signed by a victim or a victim’s parent.

A judge in Effingham County, Georgia, dismissed the lawsuit on April 12, according to court records. USA Gymnastics admits no wrongdoing or liability in the settlement, said W. Brian Cornwell of Cornwell & Stevens LLP, the gymnast’s lawyer.

Both parties have declined to comment on the settlement.

“We want to make it clear that the settlement does not prevent the former gymnast from speaking publicly about her experiences,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement Thursday.

McCabe pleaded guilty in Georgia in 2006 to federal charges of sexual exploitation of children and making false statements. He’s serving a 30-year prison sentence.

The suit sparked The Indianapolis Star’s investigation of USA Gymnastics, which exposed abuse by Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor, and spurred the resignations of the organization’s president and board.

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced this year to prison terms that will keep him locked up for life after roughly 200 women gave statements against him in two courtrooms over 10 days.

USA Gymnastics faces additional lawsuits from women who say Nassar sexually abused them. The suits allege the organization was negligent, fraudulent and intentionally inflicted emotional distress by failing to warn or protect athletes from Nassar’s abuse. The organization has denied the allegations and wants the lawsuits dismissed.

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Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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