Gatlin sacks Mitchell after doping sting operation

LONDON • World 100m champion Justin Gatlin, twice suspended for doping, could face another scandal after The Daily Telegraph reported that members of his entourage offered to sell performance-enhancing drugs to undercover reporters.

The American sprint star has sacked coach Dennis Mitchell, according to Monday's report which revealed that Mitchell and athletics agent Robert Wagner offered to provide false prescriptions for banned substances and smuggle those drugs into the United States.

Gatlin, who was banned for doping in 2001 for one year and in 2006 for four years, took to Instagram yesterday to explain the matter.

The 35-year-old wrote: "I am not using and have not used PEDs (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.

"I fired him as soon as I found out about this.

"All legal options are on the table... I have no further comments as it is now a legal matter."

His long-time agent Renaldo Nehemiah said that Wagner had represented Gatlin only two to three times and that the sprinter was not present when banned substances were discussed with Mitchell or Wagner.

The Telegraph reported that the actions of those connected to the sprinter are being investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit, set up this year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).

"Investigations stemming from tips and whistleblowers play a critical role in anti-doping efforts," a Usada spokesman told the paper. We are presently coordinating with the Athletics Integrity Unit in order to investigate these claims fully."

IAAF president Sebastian Coe, who said that Gatlin's win over Jamaican legend Usain Bolt in August at London in the world 100m final was not good for the sport, told the paper that the claims were "very serious".

The Telegraph began its investigation in July after hearing of agents and trainers involved in supplying drugs to athletes.

Reporters posed as film producers seeking people to guide an actor training for a film on athletics, with Mitchell and Wagner allegedly offering to supply and administer testosterone and human growth hormone at a price of US$250,000 (S$336,800).

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2017, with the headline 'Gatlin sacks Mitchell after doping sting operation'. Print Edition | Subscribe