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Sunday, July 30, 2006

The most important man in track...

... is certainly not Justin Gatlin, who for the moment, is penciled in as the reigning Olympic and world champion and co-world record holder in the 100-meter dash.

Those titles _ and the notoriety and money that come with them _ could be snatched away even faster than Gatlin can run should international track officials confirm an earlier positive test for doping. As a previous offender, Gatlin faces a lifetime ban from the sport.

That's big news. The bigger news, though, is that Trevor Graham is involved in this at all.

Of course, most Americans only follow track and field every four years, so Graham is virtually unknown outside of the insular world of track athletes and, um, federal officials.

Graham may indeed play a bigger role in the pro sports doping and the subsequent BALCO scandal than even Barry Bonds, Victor Conte, Marion Jones or a small-timer like Gatlin.

Graham is the one who sent a syringe containing the designer steroid TGH to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and told the agency that Conte was giving the drug to San Francisco-area athletes.

Whatever his intentions, Graham was thrust into the center of the scandal only to quickly disappear once federal officials and media folk started sniffing around Conte's offices and federal indictments ensued. Graham was no Mr. Clean himself: at least five of Graham's athletes had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, including Jones and previous 100 record holder Tim Montgomery.

Graham now appears to have a sixth athlete on the bad side of doping agents: Gatlin.

With Graham's checkered history, it's a wonder that Gatlin ever brought him on as a coach, particularly considering that he once served a two-year ban in international competition for a previous positive drug test.

At a minimum, Gatlin is guilty of gross idiocy. At worst, Gatlin was a cheat, who hired a cheater, then cheated again _ unsuccessfully at that.

Perhaps Gatlin should have heeded the chilling words of his agent Renaldo Nehemiah, who told USA Today this shortly after his client's triumph in the Athens Games: "You're judged by the company you keep."


Blogger 70% Ginuwine said...

Spot on Mr. Anderson. Your appraisal of Justin Gatlin's predicament is dead on. However, I would not be so quick to say he is not "the most important man in track". The 100 meter record holder is the face of track athletes in this country. Track and Field may not even be a top 7 sport in the US now that Soccer has emerged as a sport on the rise following this viewer friendly World Cup tv schedule and ESPN's commitment to marketing the event...I would say golf and tennis are easily ahead of T & F. But being a global favorite, especially in Europe, Track and Field is further being tarnished by the actions of Gatlin. Graham is clearly at the center of this scandal but if we will see a return of Track and Field to a highly valued level in this country...a similar desire I feel is there for Heavy Weight Boxing, it will take guys like Gatlin considering themselves important as well as the writers and media, and keeping their actions on the up and up so folks will revive an interest in their sport and personalities.

9:31 AM  

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