Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Today the Sports Tribunal of New Zealand released its decision regarding a positive test I returned after testing at the Tour of Northland this year. I have never knowingly taken any prohibited substances throughout my cycling career, and at this stage of my career, when I am trying to spend my time coaching and running my bike shop I would have no reason to do so.
In my view, the Drug Free Sport team that undertook the test did not follow the proper process to do so. At the Tribunal hearing, the evidence given for Drug Free Sport was inconsistent on this matter. Nevertheless, the Tribunal has found that there were no material flaws in the process and have upheld the alleged anti-doping violation. At this stage I am contemplating whether I appeal this case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the reality is that I am unlikely to be able to do so due to the financial resources required.
This is the third time that Drug Free Sport have sought to prosecute me for something. The first was when I tested positive in New Caledonia at the very end of my competitive career for a substance that I never took, and never would have taken. I was able to establish that some of the supplements I was using at the time were contaminated, but that wasn’t enough to explain all of the positive test, and so I was banned. To fight this would have been costly as it was in a foreign country which I would have had to travel back to, in a language I can only barely converse in and I was not looking to race again. My wife and I felt it was easier to move on with our family and lives rather than fight something that seemed so ridiculous and as we knew, it was not true. Drug Free Sport sought to introduce this ban into New Zealand even though it was originally only a regional ban in New Caledonia, as the doping authority there was not affiliated to WADA.
Then Drug Free Sport tried to say that I was acting in breach of my ban by coaching athletes. They filed this proceeding on the last day of my original ban, extending it for several months. I defended these allegations in the Sports Tribunal and won, but Drug Free Sport then appealed this matter to CAS. I feel that the way in which they did that was unfair, as they introduced new evidence even though it was an appeal, and the evidence should have been available to them at the original hearing. I am awaiting that decision at present.
Now, Drug Free Sport have targeted me at the Tour of Northland, which I knew was coming as it’s normal to test an athlete after they have just come back from a ban. The test came back positive for something I have never taken, nor would have any reason to take, given the stage of my life. I wouldn’t put everything at risk. I don’t know how or why I tested positive, whether the process flaws I know happened caused it, or whether there was contamination of something I ate or drank, but I know I did not knowingly take a banned substance. My recollections of the test were different from the DCO and hers were different from the chaperone. I am adamant they didn’t follow the right process, but I have no way of proving what transpired, particularly given my support person was told to leave the testing premises so cannot say what happened.
Those that know me well, both personally and professionally, know my stance against drugs. I stopped my career in Europe because I wouldn’t become involved in that side of the sport. There is no way that anyone knows what un-prescribed drugs will do in the future to your body, and I wanted to have a normal life with normal kids.
I am now faced with considerable uncertainty. I am awaiting the outcome of the CAS decision following my earlier win in the Sports Tribunal. I am waiting to hear what ban the Sports Tribunal will now put in place following this latest matter. I am trying to see if I can afford to appeal this latest decision, but at the same time am conscious of the need to provide for my family and to try as best as I can to get on with my life – a life which has always had cycling at the centre of it. If anyone has any information that they think may be of assistance to me regarding these matters I would be incredibly grateful if they would come forward and speak to me, but I realise that is unlikely.
I have never knowingly taken a prohibited substance, and yet here I sit with my livelihood at risk. I hope that I will be able to find a way to continue to operate my bike shop notwithstanding these events, and I will be sure to follow the rules to ensure I don’t breach any moving forward.
• This media release was originally published by Karl Murray via email on 31 October 2017.
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