INDIANAPOLIS - Justin Gatlin is serving a doping suspension.
Marion Jones has married and vanished from public view.
Judging from the talent on display at this week's US athletics championships, the event will get along just fine without them.
"Great, even better," was Tyson Gay's assessment of the US men's sprints without Gatlin, who ran and won the 100 metres at last year's US meet even though he knew he had tested positive for steroids two months earlier.
Gay finished second and was declared national champion once Gatlin was suspended. The quiet sprinter brings credentials more than worthy of a defending champion.
Only the world-record runs of Asafa Powell and Gatlin (9,77 seconds) were faster than Gay's 9,84 last year. This year, Gay had eye-popping, though wind-aided, times of 9,79 and 9,76 seconds over the past month.
"If the weather is nice, nice enough to give me maybe a 1,5 (wind), somewhere around there, I think it's very possible that I could break the world record," he said.
"I'm trying not to think about it. I just want to go out there and run. But I think it's a possibility if the weather is there because I've been practicing good, running some good times in practice, and now I'm healthy."
The four-day meet will determine the US team that will compete at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan from August 25 until September 2. The top three finishers in each event make the US team. - Sapa-AP