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Dec 21, 2007

Team owner denies doping charge; files lawsuit

Story PictureAnd while Castillo has a security crisis on his hands, he is also dealing with another big headache involving his favourite hobby. Cycling has always been associated with controversy, but the sport hit a new low this week when accusations of doping were hurled at the biggest team sponsor. News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports.

Santino Castillo, Sponsor, Team Santino’s
“It certainly gives cycling a black eye and I am instituting a lawsuit against Ray Cattouse and Gerald Garbutt for dirtying my name because this is clearly defamation of my character and they have libelled me phenomenally and I noh di play with them because they have accused me wrongly.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
Tonight Santino Castillo is fighting mad following allegations that members of his cycling team were using performance enhancing drugs. The charges were publicised by Cycling Association President Gerald Garbutt, who on Tuesday told radio listeners that a customs official at the Western Border had opened a package addressed to Castillo and determined the contents to be E.P.O., a protein hormone used to boost body’s oxygen capacity.

Santi Castillo, Sponsor, Team Santino’s
“On December fifth, a package with no name arrived at the border. The post office van picked it up. The package was in fact delivered to Mateo Cruz, we are not denying that. Mateo says he ordered a package of medicines for his dog and B12. He had been up at Melchor and he had bought it and the people delivered it the following day. According to Mateo, in fact they ran a light on him, they were expired from September 2006 so he dash them weh. Two weeks later, they are now saying that this package was E.P.O. If in fact it was E.P.O., why wasn’t the package confiscated and Mateo arrested then and there. Why not? Why all of a sudden?”

Gerald Garbutt, President, Belize Cycling Association
“Number one, I will apologize to Mr. Santino because the information I received on Tuesday is that a substance was found at the border, labelled and different things. And I, listening to the senior officer, I made a statement that it was labelled under Santino. I will apologise because when I crosschecked with him, he said that was not the case. So firstly I want to apologise to him because I’m in the media business going on forty-three years and the first time something like this come up. I’m not in the business of trying to damage nobody character and so.”

But following that apology, Garbutt told us that all members of Team Santino’s had been asked to submit to drug tests on Thursday to quell the rumours, but no one showed up at Universal Health Services.

Santiago Castillo
“While we do not object to any testing, we have in fact volunteered to get testing Janelle, it must be done properly. It must be done under the U.C.I. rules. We need to know what we are being tested for, a proper facility has to conduct the testing; more importantly has to be done through the Anti-Doping Committee of the Olympic Association, I have checked with Mr. Hilly Martinez on that, and they have to get the proper testing kit. So you have sample A, sample B, sealed and sent to either Canada, United States, Brazil or Cuba who are the only four places that could test, in a tamper proof kit. You noh just goh—he call me yesterday and seh, show up four o’clock and get test. I mean, those tests can be manipulated and indeed something wah come back fi true. Noh, noh, noh. And I want an independent member of the media to be present while this is happening. That’s my request and you could goh tell—if it meets all that criteria and protocol, which is a requirement by U.C.I., he could test we this evening.”

And while Castillo and Garbutt have bucked heads before, this time around lawyers are involved as the cycling team has retained an attorney at Pitts & Elrington to defend what they call “slanderous” comments.

Santiago Castillo Junior
“I believe that Gerald Garbutt, who doesn’t like me and who has vowed to get me, and Ray Cattouse have a witch hunt against me. Gerald Garbutt mentioned in a meeting Tuesday night to all his officials, “Aha! I got something pan ah now.” He want report me to U.C.I., which I did for his non-action for all the threats and abuse I have endured under Ray Cattouse, I reported him to the U.C.I. and now this is his break to get me back.”

“In their hearts, they know that no E.P.O. noh deh dah Belize. Janelle, E.P.O. dah wah thing weh so expensive only the very richest athletes could tek it. I mean this dah wah thing weh extremely expensive. Those guys that look forward to endorsements and get millions can do it. Noh fi wah lee poco tiempo cycling association dah Belize man, come one. They know that, but no, they want get Santino noh matter what. I believe Ray Cattouse got wah big poster ah me pan ih bed and every morning he get up, he seh I wan hambug ah today. That’s my belief.”

Compounding Garbutt’s case is the fact that no samples of the substance of were taken which means…

Gerald Garbutt
“No hard evidence we have, dah just hearsay business and that’s what is making the situation very controversial.”

Janelle Chanona
“So what exactly—you then took the word of the customs officer.”

Gerald Garbutt
“Which is a senior civil servant.”

Janelle Chanona
“That led you to make the statement.”

Gerald Garbutt
“Thought that it was coming from a credit personnel and telling me that this parcel came in, this parcel was delivered to so and so and when they check it, it was so and so. But no hard evidence we have, like not a sample or nothing.”

Janelle Chanona
“So do you regret now making the statements that you did on the radio?”

Gerald Garbutt
“I regret making the statement that it was addressed to Mr. Santino. I regret that. I don’t know what position the civil servant will still hold because he was the man on the spot, not me. It’s just information he gather. He said that this is not the first time this occur, I didn’t know about nothing. I was surprised when I get the call.”

Santino Castillo
“I am clean Janelle, I have no problem. As a matter of fact, I had already announced to my team that 2008 was going to be my last year because I am going to be fifty-two years old, I have done thirty years in cycling and I fed up of all the back and forth, the under-mindedness, everything. I mean, team Santinos is the winningest in Belize so we noh wah get no support from the other cycling teams. We are beating them, so they quickly wah grab onto straw, yes, yes, they deh pan drugs, see they di win wah lot. I mean, we train hard, when Ray Cattouse mi deh pan the radio this morning we mi di train.”

Janelle Chanona
“Is this indicative of the fact that maybe there’s no love lost between you and Mr. Castillo that there would have been this jump to this conclusion?”

Gerald Garbutt
“Well, I just perform my duties as a president; I have no problem with no cyclist. We might have a little difference at meeting, but at the end of the day when I come out of that meeting I am still their representative when it comes to cycling. They might have their problem; I nuh have no problem with no one we involved with cycling or cycling fans and so.”

Garbutt maintains the sport has not been damaged by the allegations and says his association is now concentrating their efforts on preparation for the New Year’s Cycling Classic. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

While Pitts and Elrington are defending Team Santino’s, attorney Dickie Bradley is advising Garbutt and the Belize Cycling Association.

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