July 16, 2020
Kevin Castille, the former drug dealer turned US masters record holder, was handed a four-year ban from the sport by USADA on Thursday for testing positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone. The positive test was collected at the USATF Masters 10K Championships in Dedham, Mass., in April 2019 — a race Castille won by 90 seconds in 30:47 (he has now been stripped of the title).
Castille’s story was one of the most compelling in the sport. A solid high school runner in Louisiana, he did not compete for most of his 20s, instead dealing crack cocaine. His life changed after he was sent to prison in 2001 at age 29, and in 2004 he ran a personal best of 28:49 for 10,000 meters to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
But it wasn’t until he turned 40 that Castille truly began to make his name. On April 6, 2012, just three weeks after his 40th birthday, Castille ran 28:57.88 at the Stanford Initational, a US masters (40+) 10,000m record (later broken by Bernard Lagat). For the rest of the decade, Castille continued breaking records and collected a number of US masters championships. In 2017, he set world records for the 45+ age group by running 14:11.09 and 29:44.38 for 5,000 and 10,000 meters on the track. Last year, he ran 29:58 on the roads at age 47.
Castille’s success deep into his 40s raised eyebrows within the sport.
“Some observers, particularly those who frequent the speculation-friendly LetsRun message boards, claim that his running transformation couldn’t possibly have transpired without the assistance of performance-enhancing drugs,” read a 2016 New Yorker profile.
After hearing about Castille’s ban today, Boulder-based coach Lee Troop said he had raised suspicions about Castille years ago.
“A number of things never added up with him from his story, how he randomly popped up at races, trained solo and at his age, was taking on the best in our sport who were 15-20 years younger,” Troop tweeted. “The constant replies were that he was a nice guy.”
Castille’s explanation for his late-career success: not running for most of his 20s had left him physically and mentally fresher than his peers.
“I’m not chasing a young Kevin Castille, because there was never a 13:30 Kevin Castille,” he told Runner’s World in 2015. “I was a 13:57 guy. At 43, I feel like I can [still] run a 13:57.”
According to USADA, Castille initially contested the findings after he was informed of his positive test last year, but dropped his appeal three days before his arbitration hearing was to take place, electing to sign an acceptance of sanction form.
Castille’s ban is for four years, beginning on the date of his positive test, April 28, 2019. He will be 51 years old when it expires in 2023.
From The Archives: 2012: Kevin Castille 28:57 10k at age 40!