Contributed by: Yomphana Adams
Admist jeers not cheers, Justin Gatlin won his preliminary heat in 10.05 seconds yesterday.
But it was his performance in the 100 meter final today against Usain Bolt that got the crowd riled up. Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in his last race before retiring at the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship in London.
Fans proudly support Bolt while condemning Gatlin’s participation. The criticisms stem from past incidents where Gatlin tested positive for banned substances incurring bans in 2001 and 2006. In 2001, Gatlin was banned for two years from international competition due to testing positive to medication containing amphetamines. However, the IAAF reinstated him early due to his appeal that the medication was related to a childhood prescription for attention deficit disorder.
In 2006, Gatlin tested positive for a testosterone like substance and received a ban of eight years which was later reduced to four. His road to redemption has been arduous but he has worked hard to prove himself, being the fastest man at 2016 Rio Olympics. Opponents argue that Gatlin should have received a lifetime ban and not participate in the IAAF World Championships. While Twitter exploded with support for Bolt, some of the hash tags that trended antagonizing Gatlin included #fuckoffgatlin #onceacheatalwaysacheat #drugscheat and #wadagonnagetyou.
Doping issues have been quite scandalous in the past. The 2016 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigation into the rampant doping activities of Russian National Federations during the Rio 2016 Olympics and 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games resulted in participants of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) being banned from international events. While members of the RusAF have worked diligently to reinstate their athletes to participate in the IAAF track and field events, the issue may not be resolved until 2024 according to Mikhail Butov, a member of the RusAF Presidium and IAAF Council member.
In the meantime, 19 Russians are competing as neutral athletes at the IAAF World Championships. It will be interesting to see if there are any doping double standards for Russian neutral reinstated athletes.