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Masseur denies using testosterone on Gatlin

3 August 2006

A massage therapist who has worked for years with elite athletes at the Prefontaine Classic track meet today denied that he applied testosterone cream on American sprinter Justin Gatlin.

On Saturday, the Olympic and 100 metre world champion co-world-record holder acknowledged that the US Anti-Doping Agency informed him of a test indicating he had used testosterone or other steroids after a relay race in Kansas in April.

Gatlin has said he didn't know how steroids got into his system.

But Trevor Graham, Gatlin's coach, has contended Gatlin was the victim of a vengeful massage therapist who rubbed testosterone cream on his legs without his knowledge.

The massage therapist has been identified as Christopher Whetstine, who has a practice in Eugene. Whetstine, who's under contract to Nike, denied the allegation.

"Trevor Graham is not speaking on behalf of Justin Gatlin, and the statement about me is not true," Whetstine said in a statement read by his attorney, Elizabeth Baker.

"I have fully cooperated with the investigation into this matter."

Baker said Whetstine denies using a banned substance on Gatlin "or any other athlete."

Whetstine, 40, has served for seven years as the massage therapist for the Prefontaine Classic, an annual elite meet at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, according to meet promoter Tom Jordan.

Jordan doubts the allegations against Whetstine, saying "He really wants what's best for the athletes."

"He is, in my view, considered one of the best in the world," Jordan said.

Whetstine provides his services for Nike-sponsored athletes at various events, said Dean Stoyer, a Nike spokesman. Stoyer would not reveal the length of Whetstine's contract or any other details.

"We won't speak to the allegations made by Trevor Graham," or any other aspects of the matter, Stoyer said.

If the allegations against Gatlin hold up, he would face a life ban and the loss of the world 100 metre record. Gatlin equaled Jamaican Asafa Powell's mark of 9.77 seconds in May, a month after the positive test.

He would keep his Athens gold medal in the 100m and world 100m and 200m titles from 2005.

Gatlin's lawyers, without supporting Graham's sabotage claim, have said they will seek to clear him on grounds of "exceptional circumstances."

Under international rules, athletes are responsible for any banned substance found in their system. However, bans can be waived or reduced if an athlete can prove "no fault" in the positive test.

Gatlin was suspended in 2001 after testing positive for an amphetamine found in medication he was taking for attention deficit disorder.

Track's world governing body gave him early reinstatement, but said the suspension remained on his record and he would face a life ban for any second violation.

The IAAF said it gave little credence to Graham's claim about Whetstine.

Graham has been involved with at least a half-dozen other athletes who have received drug suspensions. Graham's attorney, Joe Zeszotarski, told The Associated Press in an e-mail that his client never has taken part in distributing illegal substances to athletes. If the allegations against Gatlin hold up, Graham could be barred for two years.

AP

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