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Dennis Mitchell is former star sprinter with the University of Florida. He went on to win medals in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the 100-metre dash and the 4 x100-metre relay. He also won a relay medal in the Atlanta Olympics. Mitchell owns four IAAF World Track and Field Championships medals.
He was also a drug cheat.
He tested positive for high levels of testosterone in 1998. He later admitted that his coach Trevor Graham injected him with Human Growth Hormone.
So why does United States Track and Field (USATF) allow him to coach? Until June 21st this year, he was the sprint relays coach, however, he chose to step down because the USATF added a provision where coaches who have an athlete that will likely compete for the U.S. in the relays, cannot coach the relay team – a conflict of interest provision. However, he was later reinstated.
It sounds like a makeshift rule to get rid of Mitchell, without the messy scandal-ridden past being brought into the conversation. It may also be a clean way of not offending his employer Nike, while alleviating him from his duties. Nike invests millions of dollars into the sport of athletics. It is curious that he is back with the USATF.
Justin Gatlin is one of his athletes. Gatlin has twice been suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
In 2001 he was sanctioned for two years for testing positive for amphetamines. He explained that he used amphetamines since he was a kid to control his attention deficit issues. He is adamant that the first positive shouldn’t count.
“Other people in the sport have taken the same medication I had for ADD and only got warnings,” he said, of the two-year ban. “I didn’t.”
In 2006 he tested positive for testosterone. At that time, Gatlin was coached by Trevor Graham, the same Trevor Graham who injected Dennis Mitchell with human growth hormone.
When Mitchell was caught, he claimed that he had several beers and had sex with his wife four times during the night, “as it was her birthday.” Oddly, the USATF bought that argument; however, the IAAF did not and overruled.
Gatlin’s excuse the second time was that his massage therapist had rubbed testosterone cream on his buttocks, without telling him.
Gatlin won the 100-metre dash at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials to become the oldest sprinter to make an American Olympic team.
So why is Gatlin still competing and how is it that Dennis Mitchell is his coach?
Mitchell also coaches Canada’s Aaron Brown. Brown trains under Mitchell and along with Justin Gatlin.
Athletics Canada apparently does not have jurisdiction in controlling foreign coaches.
“We cannot control who their personal coaches are – especially since this is a Nike full-time coach who also is a USA relay team coach,” replied national Head Coach at Athletics Canada, Peter Eriksson, through an email enquiry. “We can only control coaches on the Canadian team.”
Eriksson may not be up to date on this particular matter.
Athletics Canada has a policy in place where coaches must go through a police background check. The background check, due to Canadian privacy laws must be initiated by the coach.
Mitchell’s and Gatlin’s records of doping are well-documented public knowledge, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a criminal record in the U.S.
In November of 2015 it was reported in the news website Star.com that Athletics Canada had updated its criminal record checks policy to go international – adding an Interpol component – for international criminal record checks. At the time George Barber, a part-time pole vault coach was found to slip through the cracks as he had a criminal record in the U.S.
At the time Mathieu Gentes of Athletics Canada told the Star, “We’ve just updated our policies, so for any international coaches there now has to be an Interpol search, which would have found this.”
Barber cannot officially coach according to Athletics Canada. The CBC obtained the following:
According to an Athletics Canada memo dated Nov. 5, 2015, that was obtained by CBC Sports, the organization decided that George Barber “is no longer a member in good standing, and is not authorized to act in any capacity as a representative of the association. With the Coaching Association of Canada’s support, Mr. Barber also cannot act in any coaching capacity on Canadian soil, or abroad as a representative of Athletics Canada.”
Why the difference?
A coach working for a sponsor (ie; Nike) should not dictate a governing body’s (Athletics Canada’s) policies or actions.
Mitchell and Ángel Guillermo Heredia Hernández, a former discuss thrower, were implicated and investigated by federal U.S. authorities regarding the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) fiasco.
BALCO founder Victor Conte was involved with some of the most notorious drug cheats in sport including Barry Bonds (MLB), Marion Jones (sprinter), Jason Giambi (MLB), Regina Jacobs (middle-distance), Tim Montgomery (Sprinter), Bill Romanowski (NFL), Shane Mosley (boxing), to name a few.
The lab was known to produce erythropoietin, human growth hormone, modafinil, testosterone cream, and tetrahydrogestrinone.
From Athletics Canada’s website:
Athletics Canada is committed to providing a safe environment for all Team members at all levels of training and competition. In order to achieve this at the National Team level, all personnel associated in such training and competition environments – coaches, team managers, medical staff and other team officials – are expected to show that their own personal conduct is above reproach and that athletes within their care can expect to be harm-free.
Brown is Canada’s second fastest active sprinter behind Andre De Grasse. The two Torontonians attended the University of Southern California. Currently De Grasse has the fastest active time of 9.92 in the 100-metres and 19.88 in the 200-metres, while Brown this spring eclipsed the 10-second barrier for the first time by running 9.96 and in April ran his personal best of 20.00 in the 200-metres.
It is expected that on Monday, July 11 from Edmonton, where the Canadian Track and Field Championships and Rio Olympic Trials took place from July 7 to July 10, Athletics Canada will announce the members of Team Canada. Brown, based on his performances will likely be named to the team.
Will Dennis Mitchell be coaching Aaron Brown, but not Justin Gatlin during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games?