Former champ Gatlin has a lot of catching up to do

RALEIGH, North Carolina - Justin Gatlin is learning how to sprint again, a fact that has little to do with the American's four-year absence from athletics under a doping ban.

RALEIGH, North Carolina - Justin Gatlin is learning how to sprint again, a fact that has little to do with the American's four-year absence from athletics under a doping ban.

With a new coach and a new philosophy on running, the former Olympic and world champion is working hard to get back to top speed.

"Everything I learned I had to throw it out the window and learn a whole new technique," Gatlin said.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion and 200m bronze medallist, has not competed since 2006 when he failed a doping test for excessive amounts of testosterone, the second positive test of his career.

He was banned for two years in 2001 for a failed test for amphetamines, but the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) reduced the suspension to one year after Gatlin pointed out the substance was found in medication he had taken since childhood for attention deficit disorder.

His current ban expires on July 24.

"I have a second chance to redeem myself, to go out and prove to the world that I am a great athlete," said the American who will be turning 28 soon.

Fast 100m times will be necessary for Gatlin to keep up with today's top sprinters - Jamaican double world record holder Usain Bolt, American world silver medallist Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell, the former world record holder.

"I could beat them before," Gatlin said. "I don't see why I can't run with them. Times don't scare me.

"You've got to respect the times but I feel if one man can do it, then the next man can."

His personal best of 9,85 seconds and even his 2006 world record-equalling 9,77 seconds that was nullified by his doping ban are significantly slower, however, than the best marks of Bolt (9,58 seconds) and Gay (9,69).

"I think he's going to have his hands full, not only with me and Asafa and Tyson, but other young athletes," Bolt told the Jamaica Observer. - Reuters

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