01 April, 2015

Gatlin in the limelight (again)

I should have know better when I wrote the second blog entry on Gatlin, Never say never: the Gatlin affair,  (the first one was Gatlin is, alas, still running). Gatlin managed once more to come in the limelight. This time it was because Nike decided to award him a sponsorship for this year.

Those who follow my blog know very well my position on doping. I was writing in the first Gatlin-related post

I do appreciate all athletes, even the ones who use performance-enhancing substances, because I know by first hand experience the enormous amount of work necessary in order to attain a certain level in any sport. Doping is something that some athletes resort to in order to surpass themselves. This is a proof of human weakness and, while it is something punishable under the current rules, it does not justify the ostracism of the athlete. 

However the case of Gatlin is special. In 2001 he was banned for two years after testing positive for amphetamines, a ban reduced to one year, the offense attributed to putative health reasons. Despite the warning that a repetition of a doping offense would result in a life ban when Gatlin tested positive to "testosterone or its precursor” in 2006 he was banned for eight years and in 2008 the ban was reduced to just four years. So, instead of being banned for life, starting from 2010, Gatlin was allowed to compete and went on to win several global medals. In 2014, profiting from the absence of Bolt, he obtained the best results for a male sprinter and was nominated for the World Athlete of the Year Award. This caused a wave of reactions from world and olympic champions, including IAAF vice-president S. Coe. (As I wrote in this blog, one can wonder why Sir Sebastian had let the nomination of Gatlin slip past, but this is but one of the mysteries of the IAAF).

So Gatlin, who should have been banned from athletics for life since 2006 is not only allowed to run and heap rewards but will now receive a juicy sponsorship from Nike. Curiously there are no american (US) reactions to Gatlin’s complaisant treatment, at least not that I am aware of. On the other hand the voices in Great Britain have made themselves heard over the internet. 

Olympic bronze medal-winning heptathlete Kelly Sotherton wrote on Twitter:

Jenny Meadows, the British 800m runner who has been cheated out of several medals during her career because of dopers, said:

And the great Paula Radcliffe, Marathon world champion and world record holder twitted:

Louise (@Swift__Girl on twitter) has published a limerick on Gatlin. Here it is:

Although the javelin solution appears a bit extreme one can wonder for how longer will Gatlin continue giving the bad example. For the time being, Gatlin is, alas, still running. 

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