LONDON • The agent at the centre of an investigation by a British newspaper into world 100m champion Justin Gatlin's entourage said on Tuesday he invented a story about obtaining banned drugs to impress undercover reporters.
Robert Wagner, who has occasionally represented Gatlin, and Gatlin's coach Dennis Mitchell were secretly filmed by The Daily Telegraph newspaper claiming they could obtain and administer human growth hormone and testosterone for US$250,000 (S$336,445).
The newspaper's reporters had gone to meet the pair at Gatlin's Florida training base and had posed as producers interested in making a film about a sprinter - the drugs were meant to help the film's lead actor get into shape.
But in a statement given to Britain's Press Association by a British-based public relations company, Wagner said The Telegraph's story was "deeply flawed" because it was based on false comments he made up to impress people he thought were in the film business.
"It was just big talk - I did not actually source or supply the substances the reporters asked for but stupidly claimed I could," the US-based Austrian said.
"I apologise to Mr Gatlin, his management and family for saying completely false things about him and I apologise to other completely innocent athletes also wrongly implicated by my words."
Wagner added that he had reported the meeting to the Athletics Integrity Unit and would assist the investigation it had started "in every way I can".
Earlier on Tuesday, Gatlin posted a statement on his Instagram page, saying he was "shocked and surprised" after learning Mitchell had allegedly offered to supply performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
The 35-year-old American sprinter, who beat Usain Bolt in the final of the 100m at the London world athletics championships this year, said he had sacked Mitchell after hearing of the claims.