Athletics-Gatlin goes quicker again, Semenya flops in Italy
Tue, 31 Aug
Former Olympic 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin continued to improve in his comeback from a doping ban when he ran 10.09 seconds on Tuesday but Caster Semenya had a 800m race to forget.
Gatlin, 28, finished second behind Jamaica's Johan Blake, who won in a time of 10.06 despite clutching his hamstring as he crossed the line.
Two false starts at the small meeting in the foothills of the Italian Dolomites upset American Gatlin's rhythm and when they finally ran he tweaked his quad. "In Padua (on Friday) I hope to go sub-10," he told reporters. "The future's good. I'm just getting ready for the world championship team. Every time I run I get faster and get more comfortable." The double 2005 sprint world champion, who tested positive for the male sex hormone testosterone and its precursor in 2006, ran 10.24 in Estonia this month in his first race back and has continued to get better.
His official personal best is 9.85 but he has run an annulled 9.77 and could challenge world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt, whose world record is 9.58, at next year's world championships and the 2012 Olympics.
Gatlin has had to pick smaller meetings because he is excluded from top European races due to a Euro Meetings recommendation not to invite athletes who have served major doping suspensions. He is, however, eligible for world championships and Olympics.
World 800m champion Semenya will have to improve even more if she is to defend her title next year after finishing ninth in Rovereto in two minutes 07.16 seconds, 6.79 seconds behind winner Elisa Cusma Piccione of Italy.
The 19-year-old South African was only cleared to compete again last month after controversial gender tests had put her career on hold since she won the world title in 2009.
Asked what had happened for such a slow time, she told reporters: "Nothing happened, it's just the game."