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Justin Gatlin gets a chance at Eugene

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1Justin Gatlin gets a chance at Eugene  Empty Justin Gatlin gets a chance at Eugene Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:04 am



Justin Gatlin gets a chance at Eugene  ?m=02&d=20110602&t=2&i=427099813&w=460&fh=&fw=&ll=&pl=&r=img-2011-06-02T105209Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_India-574452-1
U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin looks on before competing in the 100 metres race
during the Palio della Quercia Games in Rovereto in this August 31, 2010 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo/Files

INTERVIEW - Gatlin gets comeback chance in Oregon

By Gene Cherry
EUGENE, Oregon
Thu Jun 2, 2011

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - Disgraced 2004 Olympic 100 metres champion Justin Gatlin's comeback bid gained new life on Wednesday when he was invited to compete in Saturday's Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting.

The 2005 world champion, still hoping to prove he can compete with the best after a four-year doping ban, will face 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson of Trinidad and speedy Jamaicans Nesta Carter and Michael Frater, officials said.

"It is going to be competitive and it is going to be fast," the 29-year-old told Reuters of his first major race since 2006 when he tested positive for too high a level of the male sex hormone testosterone.

"I feel honoured just to be able to come and run at a prestigious meet like this at the USA mecca of track and field."

Gatlin said his aim was to break the 10-second barrier.

His personal best is 9.85 at the Athens Olympics with a world-record tying 9.77 nullified in 2006 because of the doping ban. That still is almost two-tenths of a second off Jamaican Usain Bolt's 2009 world record of 9.58 seconds.

"This is a totally different planet for me," Gatlin said of Saturday's race. "In 2006 when I was (last) competing, there was no Diamond League," he said of the global circuit.

His doping suspension ended last July but until now Gatlin has competed in only low-key meetings.

Organisers of Diamond League and other key European meetings have shunned him as part of an agreement in principle not to include athletes who have served major doping bans.

But Prefontaine Classic meeting director Tom Jordan decided this year to invite Gatlin, a former Prefontaine 100 metres winner.


"Justin is eligible according to IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) and USATF (U.S.A. Track and Field) rules and he served his ban for doping," Jordan told Reuters.

"We have a philosophy in this country that if you have paid your debt to society, then you are given a second chance and he will have a second chance at the Prefontaine Classic."

Jordan would not speculate whether the opportunity would open the door for Gatlin to run elsewhere.

Gatlin said he hoped it would.

"I just want to run, to put on a good show for people," he said.

He will be back on the same University of Oregon track in less than three weeks in an unlikely bid to make the American team for the world championships in August.

"I think my chances are pretty good," said Gatlin, whose 100 metres best this season (10.06 seconds) ranks seventh best among Americans.

He would need to finish in the top three at the national championships to make the U.S. team with a lower finish opening the possibility of a relay position.

"This all has been like a rebirth for me," Gatlin said.

"A journey that hopefully takes me down a path of being a champion again."



Athletics-Gatlin's Oregon invite will not change European ban

Thu, 02 Jun 2011

Disgraced Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin will remain barred from major European races despite being invited to this weekend's Diamond League meeting in the United States, European officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Gatlin, who won the 100 metres gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics but was suspended for four years after a positive doping test in 2006, was cleared for his first major race since the ban when he was offered a spot in Saturday's Prefontaine Classic in Oregon.

But the American's hopes of competing in Europe appear doomed after officials said they were not planning to change their stand against inviting athletes who had served long doping terms.

"Euromeetings, the organization representing Europe's top athletics meetings, will continue to recommend that members do not invite athletes who we believe causes disrepute to our meetings and our sport," Rajne Soderberg, the group's president and organiser of the Stockholm Diamond League meeting, said in an email.

Patrick Magyar, the organizer of the Zurich meet, offered a similar view.

"Eugene can invite who they want and we will do the same," Magyar, vice chairman of the Diamond League, told Reuters via email.

Tom Jordan, the director of the Prefontaine Classic, said the 29-year-old Gatlin had been invited because he had served his penalty.

"We have a philosophy in this country that if you have paid your debt to society, then you are given a second chance and he will have second chance at the Prefontaine Classic," Jordan told Reuters.

Gatlin tested positive for the banned male sex hormone testosterone in 2006, but has consistently denied knowingly taking banned substancs.

He is eligible to compete under both international and U.S. athletics rules but has run only in low key meetings since his ban expired last July.

He had hoped the Prefontaine invitation would open the door for major races in Europe as he tries to make the U.S. team for this year's world championships and the 2012 Olympics.

Former British European champion Dwain Chambers, who served a two-year doping ban and is eligible for the worlds but not the Olympics, has faced a similar challenge to find races.

But Soderberg said Europeans remained firm in their stand.

"The voluntary code, which has been in place since 2003, again received support from the majority of members at the organization's last meeting in London in April," he said.

"(It), of course, does not include our colleagues outside of Europe, however, our organization and its members remain committed to it."

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