Doping pasts haunt Olympic track trials – The San Diego Union-Tribune
Dining and Drinking
Michelin Guide awards 4 new stars to San Diego restaurants
UC San Diego researchers start program to pair youths and seniors to combat loneliness
Walking is ‘in’ at the golf course and, yes, it’s exercise
Two-thirds of California voters favor recalls for reasons like crime or corruption, survey says
Theater Notebook: After 30-year wait, Lamb’s veteran finally gets her dream role in ‘Belle of Amherst’
San Diego raises fees on industrial polluters for first time since 1984
German drug giant Bayer plants flag in San Diego with $2B biotech acquisition
San Diego
Nonprofits serving San Diego’s residents could be eligible for more than $4.2 million in federal funding
National Business
Japan to lift all coronavirus emergency steps nationwide
County reviews booster rules as third shots arrive for many
A look back: Justin Gatlin won the 100 meters, followed by Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey. The day’s other winners included LaShawn Merritt in the 400, Sanya Richards-Ross in the women’s 400 (49.28), Marquise Goodwin in the long jump (27-4¼), Reese Hoffa in the shot put (72-2¼), Stephanie Brown Trafton in the discus (213-10) and Jenn Suhr in the pole vault (15-1). The day’s biggest casualty was Jeremy Wariner in the 400, the 2004 gold medalist finishing sixth in the 45.24 and off the team. He collapsed to the track, buried his head in his hands and later angrily hurled his sunglasses. Instead, USC alum Bryshon Nellum made the team after being shot in the legs by gang members in 2008 a few blocks from campus.
A look ahead: The main event is the men’s 800 meters, where Mission Bay High alum Charles Jock is one of eight finalists. He is expected to take the race out quickly, perhaps sub-50 seconds for the first lap, and then try to hang on. The women’s 800 final features Alice Schmidt, who is based at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. The day’s three other finals – men’s high jump, women’s triple jump and men’s javelin – all have OTC athletes in contention.
Locals watch: OTC athlete Will Claye (27-0) took the lead in the long jump on his final attempt, only for Goodwin – a senior wide receiver at Texas – to pass him on the last jump of the competition at 27-4¼. Fellow OTC jumper Reindell Cole finished ninth at 22-4¼. Melinda Owen finished 13th in the pole vault after clearing 13-11¼.
It took four days, but the specter of doping finally enshrouded the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials like clouds regularly do on the hillsides above Hayward Field. But, really, it was only a matter of time.
LaShawn Merritt won the 400 meters on Sunday afternoon in 44.12 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. He served a 21-month doping suspension after testing positive for banned testosterone precursors he claims he inadvertently ingested in a male enhancement pills he bought at a 7-Eleven.
A half-hour later, Justin Gatlin won the 100 meters in an eye-popping 9.80 seconds. He served a four-year doping ban after testing positive for testosterone that he claims was in a cream his massage therapist rubbed on his legs without his knowledge.
“I’ve just glad I’m back,” said Gatlin, 30, who won the 100 gold at the 2004 Olympics before sitting out from 2006-2010. “I’ve been through some dark past. I think what really has helped me keep my faith was the faith of my fans, believing in me, wanting me to come back, knowing I’m a true athlete, a legit athlete.”
Of the two, Merritt figures to have the easier time convincing an understandably skeptical public.
He convinced anti-doping authorities, admitting he made a “foolish, immature and egotistical mistake” and providing evidence to an arbitration panel that ExtenZe indeed contained DHEA and another banned muscle-building substance. He even had the 7-Eleven clerk testify.
Anti-doping rules are clear, however. Athletes are fully responsible for what ends up in their bodies, no matter how it got there. Merritt, the 2008 Olympic champion, was suspended 21 months, returning last summer to finish second at the World Championships.
The next step was convincing the international Court of Arbitration for Sport to reverse an International Olympic Committee rule barring athletes who have served doping suspensions longer than six months. CAS sided with Merritt last October; he was eligible for London.
Gatlin’s reception from the record crowd of 27,013 at Hayward Field was less warm and fuzzy. In Saturday’s first-round heats, there was even a smattering of boos amid the raindrops.
Gatlin was part of Trevor Graham’s “Sprint Capitol” group in Raleigh, N.C., that had one runner after another linked to illicit drug use. He initially faced a lifetime ban and negotiated that down to four years, sticking with the story about the massage therapist and the mysterious testosterone cream (an allegation the massage therapist denies).
He returned two summers ago but struggled to find his old form until switching coaches last fall to Dennis Mitchell.
Who also has a doping past. Mitchell, a 1992 Olympic bronze medalist in the 100, served a two-year ban after testing positive in 1998. His explanation: His elevated testosterone levels were caused by drinking five beers and having sex with his wife.
On Sunday, Gatlin became the oldest man to win the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking his coach’s record. Mitchell won at the 1996 Trials at age 30 as well, but a few days younger.
Mitchell’s first order of business was getting the 6-0 Gatlin him to shed weight, and the weight of disappointment, after flirting with an NFL career and ballooning to 200-plus pounds thanks to what he called “a strict Jager-bomb diet.” Now he’s back at 182, the same weight when he won a gold (100), silver (4x100 relay) and bronze (200) in Athens.
“I’ve been tested multiple times since I’ve been back,” Gatlin said. “When I was away for four years, I was still tested. To me, it’s not about judging myself. I focus on what’s in front of me. That’s what my goal is, to just go out there and run and be free.
“I think I have a lot left in the tank.”
The 9.80 is sure to raise eyebrows, considering it came in less than ideal sprinting conditions and it approaches the 9.77 he ran in 2006 when he tested positive. Only Usain Bolt has run faster this year and just barely: a 9.76 and a 9.79.
Gatlin, though, doesn’t seem intimidated by the world-record holder or the rest of the Jamaicans who have wrested control of the Summer Games’ marquee event from the Americans.
“I don’t think I would come back to a sport where I’m OK with getting second or third, you know?” Gatlin said. “I train very hard six days a week, six hours a day. We all have our eyes on the prize. We all want to get that gold. If there are going to be three Jamaicans in our way, then that’s what it going to take to get that gold medal.”
Go deeper inside the Padres
Get our free Padres Daily newsletter, free to your inbox every day of the season.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Follow Us
More from this Author
5 things to watch as Aztecs basketball opens preseason practice

San Diego State gets basketball commitment from top-150 prospect in Phoenix

Aztecs men’s soccer team pressures its way to undefeated start, top-15 ranking

Mountain West commissioner pushes back against possible poaching from AAC

Aztecs announce basketball schedule, add Saint Mary’s game

Column: On outside of Power Five looking in, Aztecs must weigh options

More in this section
Farmers Insurance Open switching to Saturday finish for 2022
With NFL conference championship games on Sunday, PGA Tour moves golf tournament up a day

National Sports
Flyers count on offseason pickups to lead them to playoffs
The Philadelphia Flyers went from a trendy pick to win the East Division to having to answer for another lost season

National Sports
Italy to play Argentina in Europe-South America title game
European champion Italy will play Copa America winner Argentina next June

National Sports
Chelsea midfielder Kante tests positive for coronavirus
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante has tested positive for the coronavirus and is isolating for 10 days

Fantasy Football Week 4: Add and Drop
NFL Week 4 waiver wire targets for all league sizes and formats

National Sports
England WCup winner, Liverpool great Roger Hunt dies at 83
Roger Hunt, a striker in the only England team to win the World Cup and one of Liverpool’s most prolific scorers, has died

Most read sports stories
5 things to watch as Aztecs basketball opens preseason practice

Breaking down A.J. Preller’s building of Padres’ roster

Fantasy Football Week 4: Add and Drop

Column: Padres’ collapse pushes ‘Baseball Dave,’ other fans to uncomfortable crossroads

Padres Daily: It’s still important to some

San Diego State gets basketball commitment from top-150 prospect in Phoenix

Padres notes: Washington endorses Tingler’s continued employment

National sports
UEFA motion to remove Spanish judge from Super League case

LEADING OFF: NL East showdown, wild Cards at 16, Yanks-Jays

Monday Sports in Brief

NFL’s greatest toes on turf off to memorable start in ’21

What to watch in the NBA, as training camps are set to open

Pick Six: Returning NFL stars and how they fared

Connect with us
Subscribe to email newsletters from the Union-Tribune about news, sports, business, opinion and more. Also sign up for our community newspaper newsletters, and CaregiverSD.

Privacy Policy
Terms of Service
Sign Up For Our Newsletters
Follow Us


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *