The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

My Position on Justin Gatlin

Aug 16th, 2016
12:05 pm PDT

Me for Blog picCan someone, anyone, explain to me why Justin Gatlin is made out to be the devil of track and field?

People are booing him in Rio. Sebastian Coe is praying he doesn’t win. Why? And the American media is the worst constantly bringing up his past – erroneously I might add.

Funny, I haven’t heard ANYONE bringing up the fact that Michael Phelps was a dope smoking fiend that had to leave swimming for a while!

No one, including Coe who is holier than thou when it comes to "doping and suspensions" has booed, wished ill of, or said that Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce, Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell, or Veronica Campbell Brown don’t belong in the Olympics – and every one has tested positive and served suspensions! But they still get PRAISED for their accomplishments! As a matter of fact, everyone is talking about Bolt attempting the "Triple, Triple" except the leadoff man on each of the previous Olympic 4×1’s was Nesta Carter – currently serving a ban for retested samples from Beijing! So, not really a Triple Triple – especially if it is later discovered that he was also doping elsewhere!

No. ONLY Gatlin is treated like crap (something evil), and I’m sorry but it’s not right, or fair!

For starters, everyone calls him a two time cheat when the world knows his suspension in college was bulls**t. He was tagged for a substance he’d taken for A.D.D. since he was a kid And the IAAF stated publicly that he GAINED NO ADVANTAGE by taking it and cut the suspension short!

Yet that "suspension" was the basis for giving him "life" in ’06! And let’s talk about ’06. Regardless of what you believe happened in Kansas, he’s had only ONE positive test in his life – in Kansas. No positive tests in the meets before or after Kansas – ZERO. Life ban, cut to four years – on ONE test with no confirming tests before or after! Blake had more. Powell had more. Fraser Pryce had more. Merritt had more. Everyone with simple bans had more positive tests than Gatlin did with a life ban!

A childhood medication, and ONE bad test and Gatlin is called a two time cheat and dragged through the mud – by his own country! With NO support from USATF or heaven forbid the US media. They won’t even keep quiet like they do for Phelps – just say nothing! NO… NBC even had to do a special segment on it!

But here is the worst – as if it could be worse. He sat out the four years. Missed the racing, the money, an Olympics, Worlds. He did what the sport asked him to do. Came back and had to work his way back to the top. His first season he was 10.09! Took two years to get to 9.95. His ban began TEN YEARS AGO! He did FOUR YEARS and came back to constant testing! He’s been as clean as Usain Bolt – and tested more. As clean as Blake, Fraser Pryce, Powell (who was banned since Gatlin returned) and every athlete in Rio. His samples were retested from London, just like the Russians since banned!

Since his return in 2010 he’s been tested more than most and has proven to be as clean as anyone in the world – TEN YEARS after ONE TEST sent him on vacation for FOUR YEARS.

So can someone tell me what everyone’s problem is? Seriously. Tell me. I’ll listen. Convince me he’s worse than anyone that’s lined up in Rio. Give me a legitimate argument. Frankly, Coe and others should be using him as an example of what can happen when the system WORKS! After all, they praise Phelps, don’t they!

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5 Responses to “My Position on Justin Gatlin”

  1. Riley Radford says:

    Great article! I’m 17, from Australia, and have read all the articles available about Gatlin’s 2006 case. After all the research, I genuinely believe that he’s innocent. Gatlin told me a couple of months ago – via social media – that he was under a gag order from USADA. Considering he tested positive on one isolated occasion and found out about that positive three months later (if he was an intentional “drug cheat” he would have tested positive in that three month period) and was clean, which shows that it was an isolated account! Jeff Jovitzky, the Federal Investigator investigating his case (I’m sure you know this) said (when asked by the New York Times recently as to whether or not Gatlin doped intentionally): “I had many years of training in how to read untruthfulness,” Novitzky said. “Unless Justin was an Academy Award-winning actor, I didn’t see evidence of purposeful, knowing use.” Because of this, an innocent athlete will be labelled a drug cheat. What I think Gatlin needs to do is to either write an autobiography about his case and explain his ENTIRE situation, and portray his innocence. He also needs to have an interview with ESPN or a HUGE broadcasting network (the BBC for example) and detail his entire case and persuade people of his innocence, as he genuinely is! I also think he’s innocent as when he was told about his positive, he broke down, crying and on his 4 year ban he contemplated suicide and cried himself to sleep every night, which to me doesn’t sound like a Ben Johnson or a Lance Armstrong. He’s more than capable of beating Bolt, he just needs to believe it! I was defending him on Instagram and was lucky enough to get the honour to talk to him on several occasions and on one of those occasions he said to me “I have a gift for you, send me your address”. About 3 months later, a signed, USA bodysuit that he competed in was in my hands, with the words “100m Gold” written on it. That is undoubtedly one of the happiest days of my life!!! I see the pain in his eyes, the sadness. I just want people to understand what he’s been through, and for that to happen, he needs to tell them publicly. He’s innocent and needs to try and convince the world in an interview! People hate him because the media brand him as a “two time convicted drug cheat” who has never shown remorse for his actions. First test was bullsh*t as you said, he’s shown no remorse as he genuinely believes he’s innocent! Why would a World and Olympic 100m Champion risk his career doping at a charity relay? It’s ridiculous! He’s obviously innocent! Just wanted to thank you for this logical article, there aren’t too many anymore. I also hope that Seb Coe and Steve Cram lose their jobs. One of the most disgusting headlines I have ever read – in my life, about anything – boldly stated: “Perhaps even Justin Gatlin’s dog will be cheering for Usain Bolt”. I cried after I read that. For me to have even been able to talk to Justin once is a dream come true, but for him to actually remember who I am and contact me occasionally is just mind boggling for me! Never in my life did I expect this, ever, and I will be forever grateful! I’d like a career in Track and Field journalism. I hope Lilly King tests positive for cough medicine, twice, and is labelled a “two time drug cheat”. Justin Gatlin is the most resilient man I know! Thanks again.

  2. Aurelio says:

    I think that Gatlin is a scape goat.
    I recall when I first notice him, winning the NCAA double as a freshman. He seems at the time the perfect sprinter, tall enough fast and powerful. When I started to search for his background I found out about his first suspension and I thought that he was fucked by everyone, he should no have been banned for that. But, I think that as a young amateur athlete, he just let it go.
    So, when the second one came around, everyone started to point the finger at him.
    I think that he had the wrong people around him, because if he had the right people they would make him fight the first ban at the time that happened. The other mistake it was get involved with Graham when he went pro, because at the time we all kind of knew that he was not a clean coach. But those things should not be reasons to make him the bad guy.
    As a brazilian I have to say the he was booed for 2 reasons:
    1 – Everyone here loves Bolt, it is like he is brazilian, it is kind of funny. Even people that just care about football (we don´t call it soccer) knows him and loves him. And, because of that, Gatlin is the enemy, the guy who can beat the hero. If that was not enough, the general media calls him a 2 time cheat, so the second reason is that most people think what Coe wants them to think, It is a battle between the Hero Lightning Bolt and the Cheat Gatlin. I really feel sorry for him, he went away and did his time. People should let him be.

  3. David says:

    I concur with Chill that the media has mediated the image of Gatlin as the bad guy of athletes.I do believe this constant criticism has even affected gatlin performances had Gatlin not gone out for 4years I’m sure he would have beaten Gold at least twice

  4. Waynebo says:

    Justin Gatlin is vilified because people do not know the facts that you laid out in this article. It’s that simple. And they don’t want to know. He had a positive test and people don’t care enough to look into circumstances or context. They just yell “drug cheat!” because it’s the popular stance to take. They genuinely don’t care about the facts. Gatlin ought to sue NBC for defamation of character for allowing him to be singled out in this way and ignoring all of the other results that you listed. I’m certain that they know everything you know and yet they made a decision to present him in a certain light. He has been wronged by the media and the fans.

    • CHill says:

      And that was the purpose for me writing this.. To simply state the facts.. Like I said regarding Kansas, people have varying positions, regardless it’s the ONLY positive test he’s had – EVER.. Nothing before or after.. And he’s arguably been the most tested athlete on the planet.. Yet many want to affect like he was Ben Johnson – systematic doper.. Banned, returned, still doping, banned for life.. There is NOTHING similar about them..

      Yes, I’m upset with NBC, mostly commentators that KNOW the sport, and everything I’ve listed but toe the “diaper” line – but claim to love the sport..

      But I’m more upset with the leaders of the sport.. Coe beats the drum on, I hope he gets beat, and he shouldn’t be here, but there are hundreds of athletes that have served bans that get to compete and he says NOTHING about that!!

      Then there’s USATF head Max Siegel who lets these things be days without providing any defense of “his” athlete… Conspicuous by his eternal absence on the subject ..

      Both of the above contribute to the negativity this sport receives about doping, and it’s sad..

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