Olympic and World champion sprinter Justin Gatlin of the United States has agreed to an eight-year ban from athletics to avoid a lifetime ban after a second positive doping test.
The lesser penalty was approved Tuesday in exchange for Gatlin's cooperation with doping authorities after testing positive in April for testosterone and other steroids. The 24-year-old Gatlin will forfeit the 100-meter world record he tied in May, when he covered the distance in 9.77 seconds to match Asafa Powell of Jamaica.
Because of his agreement with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Gatlin can still appeal to an arbitration panel in the next six months to have the term reduced.
The sprinter's first offense came while he was in college when he tested positive after taking a banned medicine to control attention-deficit disorder. Gatlin received a two-year ban at that time. But he says he does not know how steroids got into his system this time. Under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, a second offense calls for a lifetime ban.
Craig Masback, the head of USA Track and Field, says Gatlin's doping case has been a setback for the sport. He says the organization is glad he has taken responsibility for his positive test. But he also says the USATF is very disappointed.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.