- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS — The U.S. Olympic Committee banned Justin Gatlin’s track coach from its training facilities yesterday, making him the first target in a newly amplified effort to quash doping in sports.

Trevor Graham, who trains the 100 meter co-world record holder accused of drug cheating, was barred indefinitely from all Olympic training centers and sites in the U.S., committee chairman Peter Ueberroth said.

Graham became the first coach to receive such a penalty, “based on the unusual number of athletes he has coached who have been convicted of doping offenses,” Ueberroth said in a conference call.

At least six athletes under Graham have received drug suspensions, and Gatlin recently disclosed a positive test in April for testosterone or other steroids. He faces a lifetime ban for what would be a second drug violation.

The ban is mostly symbolic because Graham’s athletes don’t train at the USOC’s three training centers and 12 training sites across the country. Still, it sets a new tone and could signal bigger things to come.

Graham, who answered the door at his house in Raleigh, N.C., refused to comment.

Ueberroth also announced the USOC will be issuing next week a “call to action, in capital letters,” asking for greater support and research on doping issues from the federal government and U.S. sports entities.

“This is a national issue,” Ueberroth said. “Nothing less than this will be needed, a collaborative effort. If we stand still, we run the risk of losing an entire generation of sports participants and sports fans.”

Ueberroth and USOC CEO Jim Scherr acknowledged a shift in focus for the federation. In the wake of scandal and reorganization, the USOC spent recent years reallocating resources to improve the performance of U.S. athletes.

Now, they say, the emphasis can’t be solely on winning.

“If we don’t participate with honor and dignity, then what we do means nothing,” Scherr said. “If there’s cheating, then it’s cheating other athletes, the American public and cheating the world of the legitimacy of sports.”

The cornerstone of the USOC’s drug strategy was set in 2000, when the federation created the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Since then, USADA has become widely recognized as one of the world’s best doping agencies.

Although the association can’t comment specifically on Graham, CEO Terry Madden applauded the USOC announcements and said USADA’s efforts continue on many fronts, including those looking into criminal activity.

“USADA continues to cooperate with the federal government in its ongoing investigation into the BALCO doping scandal,” Madden said.

In June 2003, Graham helped launch the federal investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative by anonymously mailing a syringe containing a previously undetectable steroid to USADA. He acknowledged mailing the syringe at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and has noted the action as a way of defending himself against allegations that he’s involved in doping.

Gatlin is not the only elite athlete trying to clear his name; findings against the sprinter came days after a testosterone imbalance showed up in a urine sample of Tour de France champion Floyd Landis. The American cyclist also denies knowingly taking testosterone.

Graham said Gatlin was the victim of a vengeful massage therapist who rubbed testosterone cream on him without his knowledge. But the therapist, Christopher Whetstine — who has worked with Olympian Marion Jones and other elite athletes — says the coach’s claims are untrue.

Whetstine is unavailable to speak to the media because he’s recovering from a June assault in Indianapolis during the national track and field championships, Baker said yesterday.

Whetstine, 42, was hospitalized with a concussion, broken nose, sprained ankle, dislocated thumb and cuts and bruises following a June 22 assault outside the Westin hotel in Indianapolis, according to an Indianapolis Police Department report.

Whetstine told officers he might have briefly blacked out during the early morning attack.

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