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'Inhumane and unsportsmanlike': Gatlin's agent really unhappy with reaction to 100m champ

Gatlin, who has twice served doping bans, has not been well-received as the new world champion.

Gatlin: beat Christian Coleman and Usain Bolt in Saturday's final.
Gatlin: beat Christian Coleman and Usain Bolt in Saturday's final.
Image: Tim Ireland

ATHLETICS CHIEF SEBASTIAN Coe and the IAAF’s treatment of controversial 100m world champion Justin Gatlin is ‘inhumane’ and ‘unsportsmanlike’, the athlete’s agent told the BBC in a blistering attack.

Gatlin, 35, had been loudly booed throughout the 100m rounds and the verbal abuse was ratcheted up a few notches when he won the final, denying Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt a 12th world title in his last individual final. The 60,000 plus spectators jeered Gatlin whilst chanting bronze medal winner Bolt’s name as if he were the champion.

Coe — who had said prior to being elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) he felt ‘queasy’ about dopers returning and winning titles — remarked he wasn’t very excited about the prospect of placing the gold medal around Gatlin’s neck.

“I’m not eulogistic that someone who has served two bans has walked off with one of our glittering prizes,” Coe said.

However, Gatlin’s agent Renaldo Nehemiah, a former 110m hurdles world record holder, was scathing about Coe’s remarks.

“I take offence to, with all respect, Lord Coe,” he told the BBC.

“I don’t condone doping but Justin Gatlin is not the poster child for it.

“He’s done his time, he plays by the rules, the IAAF reinstated him. They said if you come back we should accept that.

“So to put a narrative out that it’s just Justin Gatlin and he’s the bad guy, it’s really not fair.

“It’s inhumane. It’s unsportsmanlike.”

Britain Athletics Worlds Source: Martin Meissner

Nehemiah, who won the 1984 Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, said Coe and the IAAF should be more gracious and accept their rules allowed athletes like Gatlin to get a chance at redeeming themselves.

“Lord Coe’s a part of the IAAF who set the rules, who set out the punishments, and when you serve the punishment you are supposed to be reinstated, which these athletes who have offended and abused some of these rules have, and if you don’t want them in, you should change the rules,” said Nehemiah.

“You don’t allow them in and then still condemn them,” he said.

Coe has always been a hardliner on doping, believing second time offenders like Gatlin should have life bans — however that view has fallen foul of the legal system when athletes have gone to court to challenge such punishments.

Gatlin — who reacted to the crowd’s booing of his victory by placing a finger to his mouth — served a four-year ban from 2006-10, reduced from eight years and also served a prior ban whilst a student,  although that was also reduced as it was ascertained that he had taken medication for his Attention Deficit Disorder.

Nehemiah, who missed out on his chance of an Olympics due to the US boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow over the invasion of Afghanistan, said if Bolt could accept graciously that Gatlin was justified in being there, then it should be good enough for anybody.

“If it’s good for Bolt it should be good enough for everyone else,” said Nehemiah, who observed that when Gatlin competed and won bronze at the 2012 Olympics in London he was not booed.

“If the king, the legend, is OK with it,we should all be OK with it.”

- © AFP, 2017

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