Former sprinter Dennis Mitchell and athletes’ agent Robert Wagner are at the centre of an IAAF investigation after being accused of offering performance-enhancing drugs to undercover reporters from The Daily Telegraph.
Mitchell, who served a two-year ban in 1998 after testing positive for testosterone, has been working recently as the coach of Justin Gatlin and was sprint relays coach for USA Track & Field during 2014-16, although the world 100m champion says he sacked the 51-year-old when he heard about these new doping revelations.
The Telegraph‘s investigation claims members of Gatlin’s team offered to provide prescriptions in a false name and smuggle the substances to the United States.
The newspaper’s reporters visited a Florida training camp posing as representatives of a film company wanting to make a sports film who were looking for a coach to train their star to look like an athlete.
They claim Mitchell and Wagner then offered to supply and administer testosterone and human growth hormone for an actor training for the film.
The products were to be provided via a doctor in Austria – which is the country Wagner is from – and the total fee for the project was to be £187,000.
When he tested positive 20 years ago, Mitchell, a former 9.91 100m sprinter, famously used the excuse that his drugs test failure was caused by drinking five bottles of beer and having sex with his wife the night before “because it was her birthday”.
Wagner, meanwhile, is a long-time and prominent agent in track and field who has looked after a number of British athletes over the years and who made the news a decade ago for starting an athletics betting website – an idea that flew in the face of the IAAF’s anti-gambling rules.
According to The Telegraph, Gatlin’s agent for the last 14 years, Renaldo Nehemiah, said that Wagner had worked for Gatlin “on no more than two or three occasions”.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), set up by the IAAF, and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) say they have opened an investigation into the claims.
IAAF president Seb Coe said: “These allegations are extremely serious and I know the independent Athletics Integrity Unit will investigate in accordance with its mandate.”
In a statement to The Telegraph, Mitchell said: “I never suggested in any way that any of my current athletes used any banned substances or that I was familiar with training any of my current athletes with those substances.”
Wagner told the newspaper: “I wasn’t involved in doping. Obviously I played along because I knew what was going on. I had to get them hooked.”
Writing in a post on Instagram, Gatlin said he was “shocked and surprised” at the allegations made against his coach.
“I fired him as soon as I found out about this,” Gatlin added.