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Athletics | International

Justin Gatlin © Gallo Images

Gatlin wishes Gay, Powell the best



Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who went on to serve a four-year doping ban, wished Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell "all the best in stressful times" in the wake of their failed drugs tests.

Positive tests for Gay and Powell, the second and fourth fastest ever sprinters over 100m, were revealed last week, shocking the world of track and field just ahead of next month's world championships in Moscow.

But Gatlin, who claimed 100m gold at the Athens Games but then fell foul of drugs and served a four-year ban, coming back in late 2010, was quick not to rush to conclusions.

"What's going on with them hasn't even reached the court system," he said, shortly after teammate Carmelina Jeter and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had stormed out of their joint press conference after refusing to be quizzed on the doping issue.

"We don't even know what's going to happen. I'm not the judge or the jury in the situation. I'm just sitting back like any other spectator to see what's going to happen.

"I just wish the best for them, it's a stressful time, not only for them but the sport in general."

Ironically, Gatlin had a joint world record rescinded from the record books after he tested positive, matching Powell's then-best of 9.77sec in a Grand Prix meeting in Doha in 2006.

"I have no reaction," he said of Gay and Powell's positive A samples. "I've been focusing on getting healthy again and getting back on track, going out there and competing in Monaco and going forward with my training to get ready for Moscow.

"I want to be in tip-top shape, so I don't have any big reaction. I'm focusing on myself, and hope the best for them."

Gatlin added: "My situation was over half a decade ago. I've been back. Track and field is not about escalation, it's more about what you produce back on the track.

"I haven't read any articles about what's happening with Tyson and Asafa."

Gatlin was adamant that he had "no worries about the credibility of the sport".

"I still believe in it, I'm a fan of the sport," said the American who flirted with NFL during his four-year ban.

"It's something we have to deal with as a sport and community, we have to get past it."

He did warn, however, that the similarly aged Gay and Powell would have to work hard to get back into shape to be competitive should their B samples come back positive and they be banned.

"I don't really have any advice for them going forward," he said. "I guess the toughest part was being in shape. I came back 20 pounds overweight.

"It was just getting back in proper shape and having the proper tools, coaching and training partners around me to help me get back into world-class sprinting shape."

And Gatlin, who was and remains the target of many critics who believe in life-time bans for drugs cheats, was ambivalent when asked whether he felt slightly exonerated by the Gay and Powell's failed tests.

"I wouldn't say it takes any heat off me," he said. "It's still been a normal day for me when I woke up and when I go to sleep."



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