Gatlin 'should copy Chambers'
Tue, 14 Dec 2010
If sprinter Justin Gatlin needs a road map in his journey back from a long doping suspension, British world indoor winner Dwain Chambers might be a handy reference, according to the former US Olympic and world champion's new coach.
"Chambers, right there in England, made a substantial comeback," US coach of the year Brooks Johnson told Reuters.
"If Justin does comparably as well, and I think he will, if not better, that would put him right there in the 100 (metres) game," said Johnson, who became Gatlin's coach this autumn.
"It's not as if we are breaking new ground like Dwain did," added the long-time coach, who also mentors 110 metres hurdles US record holder David Oliver.
"There is a model of success out there. Just follow the (Chambers) model and get better at it."
Chambers, Britain's top sprinter, rallied from a two-year doping suspension for the banned steroid tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) to become European and world indoor 60 metres champion.
Even after the ban, he experienced long stretches off the track in unsuccessful bids at American football and rugby league before finding his footing again in athletics.
A similar challenge awaits Gatlin, the 28-year-old who spent four years on doping suspension after testing positive in 2006 for excessive levels of the male sex hormone testosterone and its precursors.
Gatlin has repeatedly denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs. Chambers confessed to a litany of banned substances.
The American ran six low-key races over the summer after his ban expired, but 2011, with its world championships in Daegu, South Korea, will be the test that determines whether he can again be a world-calibre sprinter.
"I am pretty confident he can do it," said Johnson, who has a stable of Olympic contenders in his Orlando, Florida, training camp.
The odds appear stacked against Gatlin, though.
His 2010 best, 10.09 seconds, ranked only 27th on a worldwide list headed by the 9.78-second runs of American Tyson Gay and Jamaican Nesta Carter.
Nine Americans were faster than the 2004 Olympic 100 metres gold medallist and 2005 world champion at 100 and 200 metres.
He would need a top-three finish at June's US trials to make the world championships, which start on August 27.
"I feel with better competition, more races under my belt and a more sound training regime, I definitely can go out there and make the team," Gatlin told Reuters.
"I only had six races last season and everybody else had double-figure races. If I had a full season, I think I would have been up in the top three."
The key will be rediscovering the speed and technique that led to his world-record equalling time of 9.77 seconds in 2006 that was annulled by his doping suspension.
Only three men - Jamaican world-record holder Usain Bolt (9.58 seconds), Gay (9.69) and Jamaican Asafa Powell (9.72) - have been faster.
"Nowadays, in order to be an effective 100 metres runner you basically have to have range all the way up to the 400 metres," said Johnson.
"He has to get strong enough to be competitive or representative at the 4, then drop down to the 1 and the 2."
Whether Gatlin will run indoors is still to be determined.
"The indoor stuff would be basically to establish his stride pattern for 10 metres," Johnson said.
"Right now Justin thinks he can get there in six-and-a-half (strides). Our job is to see if you can effectively and efficiently get there in six."
Bolt was already there, Johnson noted.
"I just want to get out there and run," said Gatlin. "Be successful at what I do and make the world team, and not have any political obstacles in my way...to be able to run like any athlete out there."
That, of course, may not be possible.
Major European meetings have refused to admit athletes such as Chambers and Gatlin who have served long doping suspensions, because of the negative publicity they bring.
Gatlin's low ranking on the world list may even keep him out of the two US Diamond League meetings.
"Brooks said don't worry about that," Gatlin said. "Worry about training and running fast and all the other stuff will come to you."
Medals at the 2011 world championships and the 2012 London Olympics remain his goal.
"To double at the world championships would be a great feat," said the man who did just that five years ago.