Tag Archives: Athletics

Justin Gatlin should be handed life-time ban

Justin Gatlin is once again in the headlines for the wrong reasons, after his coach and agent have come under an athletics ant-doping investigation.

Convicted doper Dennis Mitchell – who coached Gatlin until his dismissal on Monday – and agent Robert Wagner were caught out by a Telegraph investigation after they were seen to be offering to supply and administer performance-enhancing drugs to an actor.

Abuse of power

The fact Mitchell – who was banned for showing high levels of testosterone in 1998 by the International Association of Athletics (IAAF) – is allowed to coach is a disgrace. If you’re banned for breaking the laws of the sport, there’s no way you should be able to hold a role of power – because they will abuse it, as it seems with Mitchell.

It’s a view shared by many of those within the sport. Retired Team GB sprinter and Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell said in an interview with the Telegraph: “Why are these people allowed to stay in the sport? The only way we are going to be able to move forward as a sport and create clarity is if they are no longer involved.”

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s former coach Tony Minichiello added, “I think you should get one strike and then you are out. I don’t think the rules go far enough. When they ban athletes they don’t then look at who the coach is or where they got the drugs from. Agents and coaches should be as culpable.”

Commonplace

Both are absolutely right. If you allow cheats back into the sport then naturally they have a mindset to try and get around the rules – they may well have a good knowledge of how to do it – and then they will help their athlete to do so.

Coaches should be held more accountable, because they are the ones in control and should be advising their stars. If they give them a drug, it’s highly unlikely the athlete will turn down their advice. One strike should mean you are out.

Although claimed to be surprised Gatlin is surprised by the allegations against Mitchell and denies taking any PEDS – his former drugs tests are now being rerun.

The reason I think he should be banned for life and stripped of his titles is the following quote from agent Wagner given during the Telegraph’s investigation, claiming using PEDS is commonplace. “You think Justin is not doing this? Do you think Dennis wasn’t doing this? Everybody does it.” This is a clear indication that Gatlin has, once again, broken the rules surely?

Disrepute

Not only that, it shows that athletics is rife with athletes trying to cheat the system.

This is not the first time Gatlin has taking banned substances. He was stopped from competing in 2001 after testing positive for amphetamines, again being banned in 2006 after testing positive for testosterone.

“You think Justin is not doing this? Do you think Dennis wasn’t doing this? Everybody does it” – Robert Wagner

He’s broken the rules twice and yet is allowed back in? That’s a disgrace and brings disrepute to the sport. It’s athletes like Gatlin who tarnish athletics and they shouldn’t be allowed to return.

Gatlin was booed at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London after beating Usain Bolt to 100m gold – a clear sign of what people think of him and what he’s done.

People don’t want cheats back in the sport. Wagner has been linked to controversial athletes, including Kim Collins who tested positive for Salbutamol in 2002.

“It’s athletes like Gatlin who bring the sport down and they shouldn’t be allowed back in.”

It’s quite clear that those three are trying to break the rules and they are probably not the only ones.

If Lord Coe – chairman of the IAAF and former Olympic champion athlete, as well as a long-term campaigner for giving cheats a life-time ban – wants an all-level sport then he must act.

If an athlete, or indeed their coach or agent, is seen to give or take PEDS or any other banned substances then they should be banned for life. Only then will we see a respectable sport without the whispers of cheating.

London 2017 World Athletics Championships Podcast

This summer, the London Stadium in Stratford will host the 2017 World Athletics and ParaAthletics Championships.

These will be the biggest and most prestigious athletics events staged at the venue since the glory days of the 2012 Olympic Games.

But how many people are actually aware that the Championships are coming to the capital in August?

Crystal Davis and Lucas Chomicki visited the Queen Elizabeth Park, home of the London Stadium, to ask people there about the 2017 Worlds.

These events should be the highest-profile entries on the UK’s sporting calendar this year, but are they still flying under the radar with less than six months to go?

Five successful sporting switches

We all have an occasional urge to do something new to freshen up our lives, and trying out a new sport is one way of doing it.

But imagine if that urge could lead to a potentially lucrative and dazzling new career when you’re already made a name for yourself as a sportsman.

The most recent star to switch from one sport to another is former Bundesliga goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who made a successful WWE pro-wrestling debut in Munich.

We look at five other moves that paid off.

5. Andrew Flintoff – from cricket to boxing to cricket

Flintoff strikes a pose. Pic by Adam Cool© , flickr creative commons

Many cricketers have shown their talents for other sports. Dennis Compton, for example, played 78 Tests for England but also had a successful career as a footballer with Arsenal.

England legend Sir Ian Botham also played football whilst playing Test cricket, while South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes played hockey and was actually selected to represent his country at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

A more recent familiar example is Andrew Flintoff’s decision to try professional boxing after retiring from cricket. The former England all-rounder made his pro debut in Manchester 2012 against Richard Dawson from the US.

It ended successfully for Flintoff as he won the fight, which was filmed as part of a TV documentary about his switch from the pitch to the ring.

However, ‘Freddie’ decided to quit while and he was ahead opted instead to make a cricketing comeback.

He came out of retirement to compete for Lancashire in the 2014 Natwest T20 Blast, and also went to Australia later that year to play in the Big Bash for the Brisbane Heat, before finally calling it a day.

4. Adam Gemili – football to athletics

Team GB sprint star Adam Gemili’s footballing career started at Chelsea as a youth player since at the age of eight, and he went on to ply as a defender for Dagenham & Redbridge and Thurrock FC.

Maybe he suspected deep down that soccer stardom was out of his reach, so he opted to develop his other talent – for running fast – instead and left football behind in favour of athletics in 2012.

His most successful achievement on the track to date came at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when he finished second in the men’s 100m final.

Still only 23 years of age, he’s surely on course to add to his medals tally on the international stage in the next few years.

3. Fabien Barthez – from football to motorsport

MOTORSPORT - GT TOUR 2012 - PAUL RICARD - LE CASTELLET (FRA) - 26 TO 28/10/2012 - PHOTO : FLORENT GOODEN / DPPI - BARTHEZ FABIEN - TEAM SOFREV ASP FERRARI 458 ITALIA - AMBIANCE PORTRAITFormer Manchester United star Fabien Barthez was known as a fabulous shot stopper, and was named ‘keeper of the tournament as France won the 1998 World Cup.

He also helped his country to win Euro 2000, and won plenty of league titles and cups at club level for the likes of United, Marseille and Monaco.

After retiring in 2007, he swapped football strips for racing suits as he developed a successful career in motorsport.

He has competed in competitions including the Porsche Carrera Cup France, the FIA GT Series and Caterham Sigma Cup France.

In 2013 he was crowned French GT champion, and in 2014 took part in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driving a Ferrari 458, he and his co-drivers finished 29th overall and ninth in their class.

2. Sonny Bill Williams – from rugby league to boxing to rugby union

Sonny Bill Williams has had an extraordinary career. An true icon to many, the New Zealander has achieved a ton of success in his time.

From winning two Rugby World Cups and several honours in rugby league, to remaining unbeaten in his boxing career, Williams is surely on of the greatest athletes in the world.

He started out in rugby league, playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters as well as for New Zealand.

He then decided to make a switch to boxing and was unbeaten in seven fights, winning them all, including three by knockout, and claiming the New Zealand heavyweight crown and WBA international belt along the way.

However, rugby union came calling again and he returned to the 15-man code in time to become part of the All Blacks squad which won the 2011 World Cup, helping them to retain it in 2015.

1. Brock Lesnar – multi-sport athlete

Not only he can fight, he can play American football too. Brock Lesnar has success written all over him.

Winning multiple championships in the WWE and New Japan pro-wrestling – as well as dominating the MMA/UFC scene – he also had a brief spell at the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.

Lesnar signed with WWE in 2000, making his main roster debut in 2002. He went on to become the youngest undisputed WWE champion at the age of 25, a King of the Ring and Royal Rumble winner as well as ending Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak in 2014.

Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, Lesnar put his WWE career on hold in 2004 in order to pursue a career in American football as a defensive tackle. He was recruited by the Minnesota Vikings for the 2004-05 campaign and played several pre-season games but was then cut from their roster.

UFC came calling, and it was a fresh challenge for Lesnar. He had nine fights, winning six of them, but has now returned to the WWE and has a bout against Goldberg in the Survivor Series on November 20th.