Without a lawyer’s help, disgraced masters running star Kevin Castille fought his doping case for a year — maintaining his innocence throughout.
In a Jan. 10 conference call with an arbitrator and U.S. anti-doping officials, Castille was asked how an anabolic steroid got into his system.
“I don’t know,” he replied, according to a tape of the half-hour meeting he provided. “So my thing is: I don’t know how it got there, and I’m pretty positive that if I get tested again, then it’s going to be the same thing.”
In his first public comments on a four-year suspension announced July 16, Castille, 48, said he accepted the sanction not because he was guilty or that USADA had proved its case.
“They decided I was guilty from day one and they acted accordingly,” he said Monday via email. “They did everything in their powers to make sure it stayed that way.”
In a later note, he said he accepted the sanction after being denied an in-person hearing: “I knew then that my efforts would be pointless and I was fighting [a] losing battle.”
The Baton Rouge runner — whose victories have been viewed with suspicion since 2012 when he won the Carlsbad 5000 at age 40 — says he was first informed of his A-sample positive test July 29 via email from USADA’s April Ostler.
But when a Montreal lab sent him results of his B-sample (tested Aug. 21 but revealed to Castille Oct. 18, he said), Castille was upset. The results came back in French, and he couldn’t immediately translate the document.
At the January hearing, the age-group world record holder explained: “I’ve been pretty straight with Ted [Koehler, a USADA lawyer]. … And I didn’t follow his whatever timeline because I had simply asked for the translation of the records.”
He said the translation wasn’t sent until December.
“And then they send you these deadlines, what they want you to follow,” Castille said of the USADA request for information. “But then they don’t give you simple things like taking something from French and putting it into English.”
Castille said USADA’S failure to give him simple information was “why I didn’t fill that out. It would have been easy for me to do, yeah, that’s fine. But that’s the reason I didn’t do it.”
In his later email, Castille said the punishment was inevitable.
“I’m almost two years in [from the April 28, 2019, date of his positive test],” he wrote. “Two years will pass like a fast weekend. I will survive this.”
Castille said he had “more important things to worry about at the moment. And I promise my image or reputation is not one of them. I’m OK. I’ll be OK, in accordance to Proverbs 22:1.”
But Cook, senior director for investigations, wrote Carter on July 1: “USADA is unable to agree to this proposal because Mr. Castille has not identified the source of his positive test or provided other evidence establishing his lack of intent as defined under the rules, and therefore, there does not appear to be a basis to reduce his sanction from four to two years.”
Cook also rejected as unfounded Castille’s “repeated characterizations of USADA as a bully and doing whatever it wants.”
“USADA has continually communicated with Mr. Castille about the process and his case and only seeks to apply the rules fairly, equitably and consistently in this case, as it does in all cases,” Cook wrote.
On the Jan. 10 call, a polite Castille suggested via questions that USADA procedures or rules were violated. Castille said his A and B urine samples weren’t tested at the same laboratory.
But the USADA attorneys explained several times that the A sample was first sent to a WADA-certified lab in Salt Lake City before it and the B sample were transferred to a lab in Montreal, which was able to carry out the more specialized IRMS testing required.
Castille also noted the months it took for both samples to be tested, asking if a deadline existed for them to be processed. USADA said it wasn’t aware of a deadline.
“I didn’t have a lawyer because I simply could not afford any of those guys who were versed in USADA/WADA BS,” Castille said Monday. “And my only goal at the end was to have my face to face day in court, [a] day in arbitration aka their court which was the final [say] as far as I was concerned, when I was denied that.”
Castille sought an in-person meeting July 16 in New Orleans — delayed from a May 21 hearing agreed to in January. But a teleconference was scheduled. Castille rejected that.
“I was promised an in-person hearing and their lawyers did what lawyers do,” he said. “I didn’t want an online hearing. I didn’t think it would be fair or personal.”
USADA spokesman Adam Woullard on Monday said Castille could have had a full evidentiary hearing in front of an independent arbitrator July 16.
“However, he submitted a signed sanction agreement to the arbitrator on July 14 (which was forwarded to USADA),” Woullard told Times of San Diego. “Although we were surprised to learn he had covertly recorded the preliminary hearing held several months ago regarding scheduling matters, we certainly would have agreed to a recording or public hearing.”
In his July 1 email to arbitrator Carter, Castille wrote: “If I’m going to be executed, they will most certainly not be doing it via FaceTime and in their PJ’s! So again, I do not want a video conference hearing. I have been pretty [adamant] about this; I would like what we all agreed upon.”
In his own July 1 email, USADA’s Cook noted that his watchdog agency “continues to receive communications from USATF about the delay and need to resolve Mr. Castille’s case given his first-place finish and the fact that the prize money is being held for all men who participated in his race until this case is resolved.”
In fact, the USATF Masters Long Distance Running Committee on Friday announced “adjusted results” for his race at the 2019 USATF Masters 10K Championships in Dedham, Massachusetts, where Castille tested positive for steroids:
“AGE GRADED 1. Ken Youngers 62 36:19 92.02% $500, 2. Andy Gardiner 53 33.44 91.36% $400, 3. Norm Larson 63 37:13 90.63% $300, 4. John Barbour 65 38:39 88.95% $200, 5. Mark Reeder 59 36:46 88.40% $150, 6 & 7 (tie) John Sullivan 58 36:28 88.32% $112.50 and Tim Van Orden 50 34:01 88.32% $112.50.”
Youngers, Gardiner and Larson were to receive upgraded medals for gold, silver and bronze, the committee said, adding: “All seven runners will receive higher checks than previously anticipated.”
“The committee applauds these performances and encourages all who know these swift runners to congratulate them on their fine accomplishment, now fully recognized,” said a statement.
Mary V. Rosado, chair of the USATF Masters LDR Committee, said: “The goal of anti-doping testing is to ensure a clean sport where the athletes who earn their way to the top get the recognition they deserve. The actions taken today are consistent with that aim.”
Castille has his supporters, though.
One is Kim Broussard, athletic director at St. Thomas More Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Castille coached between 2014 and 2016.
“As a cross country and track coach, Kevin brought a deep understanding and sincere passion to the sport that was evident by his commitment to his own personal training, as well as to the many athletes he trained,” Broussard said Saturday. “He was not just that coach that would say: Go run 8 miles. He was right there running with them. He not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk!”
Broussard declined to share thoughts on the drug suspension, however, saying: “Due to only what I have heard and not having any facts, I respectfully have no comment.”
In an undated voice mail, Milligan College runner Alex Mortimer called Castille as an old friend — “someone who loves you so much.”
“I want this to be real talk,” said Mortimer, 22. “I want to be a voice of love and a voice of hope…. My life was changed dramatically by you and your patience with me throughout my high school [career] where you [helped] me grow as a runner.”
Mortimer recalled Castille sending him Bible verses that “life was more than running a certain time in a race…. I want you to know how much I’ve been encouraged by you to not allow running to be an idol in my life.”
The voice mail, shared by Castille, went on: “There is nothing that you could ever do that would separate you from the love of God,” noting “a place of repentance for what we’ve done. … I’m so proud of the things that you have overcome, the testimony of your life is powerful.”
“Your life is valuable and there is so much more in store for you than what you can even see right now,” Mortimer said.
Updated at 4:47 p.m. July 20, 2020