Justin Gatlin (born February 10, 1982) is an American sprinter who specializes in the 100 and 200 metres events. He is the 2017 100m World Champion. He is the 2004 Olympic champion in the 100 metres, the 2005 and 2017 World champion in the same event, and the 2005 World champion in the 200 metres. Gatlin was banned from competing between 2006 and 2010 by the USADA for failing a second drugs test, testing positive for testosterone.
A five-time Olympic medalist, Justin Gatlin's personal best of 9.74 seconds ranks fifth on the all-time list of male 100 metre athletes. He is a two-time 100m World Champion and indoor world champion in the 60-metre dash in 2003 and 2012, and won both the 100 metres and, 200 metres at the 2005 World Championships.
In 2001, Gatlin incurred a two-year ban from athletics for testing positive for a banned substance; this ban was then later reduced to one year because of an appeal. In 2006, he incurred a further four-year ban (originally an eight-year ban) from track and field for testing positive for a banned substance, with this sanction erasing his then-world-record time of 9.77 seconds in the 100 metres. Gatlin began competing again in August 2010, soon after his eligibility was reinstated. In June 2012 at the US Olympic trials, Gatlin ran a time of 9.80 seconds, which was the fastest-ever time recorded for a man over the age of 30. His continued elite-level career after serving bans for two doping offences made him a controversial figure in the sport.
Gatlin won the gold medal in the 100 metres at the 2004 Olympics. After not competing in the 2008 Olympics due to suspension, he ran a time of 9.79 seconds in the 100 metres final at the London 2012 Olympics, earning a bronze medal. His performance at the 2012 Olympic 100 metre final contributed to the fastest 100 metre race in history, which saw the three medal winners, Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Gatlin all run under 9.80 seconds. He won his third Olympic medal in the 100 metres in the 2016 Olympic 100 metre final, finishing with the silver. At 34, he became the oldest man to win an Olympic medal in a non-relay sprint event. At the age of 35, Gatlin won the gold medal in the 100 metres at the 2017 World Championships, a full 12 years after his first triumph in the event; in doing so, he defeated three-time world and Olympic champion, also world record holder, Usain Bolt in the latter's final individual race at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics in London.
At the 2019 World Championships in Athletics held in Doha, Qatar, Gatlin won the silver medal in the 100m in a time of 9.89, behind his compatriot Christian Coleman who won gold in 9.76 seconds. Gatlin’s silver medal at the 2019 World Championships has made him the most decorated 100m sprinter in World Championship history, with a record of five individual 100m medals at the World Championships, surpassing Usain Bolt’s haul of four.
Career from 2000 to 2006
In the fall of 2000, Gatlin arrived at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as a good high school 110 metre hurdler. During high school, Gatlin was recruited for track by coaches Vince Anderson and Bill Webb who quickly realized his potential and turned him into a sprinter. After training and competing in Tennessee's program for two years under the guidance of former assistant Vince Anderson, Gatlin won six consecutive NCAA titles. In the fall of 2004, Gatlin graduated from Tennessee after his four seasons to join the professional ranks. Just two years later, he won the gold medal in the 100 metres (9.85 seconds) at the 2004 Summer Olympics, narrowly beating Francis Obikwelu of Portugal and the defending champion Maurice Greene. He also won a bronze medal in an American sweep of the 200 metre race, and a silver medal as a member of the 4 × 100 metres relay squad. In the 2005 World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, he won gold in 100 metres from defending champion Kim Collins.
On August 7, 2005, Gatlin clocked a 100 metres time of 9.88 seconds to win the World Championship in Helsinki. Starting as a favorite and with world record holder Asafa Powell not competing due to injury, Gatlin beat his competitors by the widest margin ever seen at a men's world championship 100 metres to capture the Olympic-World Championship double.
Gatlin also won the 200 metres in Helsinki, becoming the second person in athletics history to win both sprint distances during a single World Championship (the first was Maurice Greene during the 1999 championships in Seville, the third – Tyson Gay during the 2007 championships in Osaka and the 4th – Usain Bolt during the 2009 championships in Berlin). In the 200 metre event, American athletes earned the top four places, the first time any country had done so in World Championship athletics history.
On May 12, 2006, Gatlin, running in the final of the IAAF Super Tour meeting in Doha, Qatar, equalled the 100 metre world record of 9.77 seconds (set in 2005 by Jamaica's Asafa Powell), though this was later annulled. It had originally been reported that he had beaten the record, with a time of 9.76 seconds +1.7 m/s wind. However, the IAAF revealed on May 16 that his time had been 9.766 seconds, which was subsequently rounded up to 9.77, in line with regulations. Shortly thereafter, with the track and field community itching for a Gatlin-Powell showdown, the two both appeared at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon. No agreement could be reached with the meet organizers, however, so the two competed in separate heats. Gatlin won the event with a time of 9.88 seconds over Powell's 9.93 seconds.
Gatlin pulled out of a meeting with Powell set for July 28, 2006 at the London Grand Prix.
On December 19, 2006 ESPN reported that Gatlin would work with Woodham High School's track team as a voluntary coach. He will help his old high school with "some workouts, sprint work, block work, where he sees something and can give encouragement."
In 2001, Gatlin was banned from international competition for two years after testing positive for amphetamines. Gatlin appealed on the grounds that the positive test had been due to medication that he had been taking since his childhood, when he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. The appeal resulted in an early reinstatement by the IAAF.
On July 29, 2006, Gatlin told the media that he had been informed by the USADA that he had given a positive doping test in April the same year. He claimed his innocence in the matter:
It is believed that the substance that Gatlin tested positive for was "testosterone or its precursor." The failed test was revealed after a relay race on April 22, 2006 in Lawrence, Kansas. The "B" sample was confirmed as positive in July.
Gatlin was coached by Trevor Graham. Among athletes Graham has coached, eight have tested positive or received bans for performance-enhancing drugs. After Gatlin's failed test, Graham stated in an interview that Gatlin had been sabotaged. He blamed massage therapist Christopher Whetstine for rubbing a cream containing testosterone onto Gatlin's buttocks without his knowledge. The therapist denied the claim, saying: "Trevor Graham is not speaking on behalf of Justin Gatlin and the story about me is not true."
On August 22, 2006, Gatlin accepted an eight-year ban from track and field, avoiding a lifetime ban in exchange for his cooperation with the doping authorities, and because of the "exceptional circumstances" surrounding his first positive drug test. Gatlin appealed against the ban; an arbitration panel reduced it to four years at a hearing in December 2007. The USADA's chief executive officer explained "Given his cooperation and the circumstances relating to Mr Gatlin's first offence, the four-year penalty issued by the arbitration panel is a fair and just outcome". His 9.77s performance, set in May 2006, was annulled.
Possible NFL career
It was reported that Gatlin planned to serve his four-year ban from the track on a football field. On November 29, 2006 ESPN reported that Gatlin had worked out with the Houston Texans, although he has little football experience and "has not played football since 10th grade".
On May 4, 2007 The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that Gatlin was one of 28 free agents taken to their 2007 rookie camp on tryout contracts, and was considered to be the most intriguing unsigned athlete in attendance. He tried out for the team as a wide receiver. He was unsuccessful, though he stated that he believed that he had all the necessary skills and that the only reason he did not make the team was because coaches viewed him as a "track guy."
On August 3, 2010 Gatlin made his return to the athletics circuit after a four-year doping ban with a tour of Estonia and Finland. He won the 100 metres in Rakvere, recording 10.24 seconds. At the Ergo World Challenge meeting in Tallinn he improved further with a win in 10.17 seconds. His coach, Loren Seagrave, acknowledged that the sprinter's starts were poor, but that Gatlin's finish to the race remained strong. Running at the final meet of the Finnish Elite Games series in Joensuu, Gatlin won in the absence of injured Steve Mullings. In Rovereto, Italy, on August 31, 2010 Gatlin was placed second in the 100 metres with a time of 10.09 seconds, behind Yohan Blake, who won in 10.06 seconds.
On June 25, 2011, in the 2011 USA Track & Field Championships, Gatlin was second behind Walter Dix with a season's best time of 9.95 seconds. He represented the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, where he was eliminated in the semifinals.
At the 2012 Diamond League meeting in Doha, Gatlin ran 9.87 seconds, defeating Asafa Powell by one hundredth of a second, and putting himself as a favorite for a medal at the 2012 London Olympics. On June 24, 2012 Gatlin won the 100 metre final at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon with a personal best time of 9.80 seconds, the fastest time in history for a man over 30. On August 5, 2012 at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, he recorded a new personal best time of 9.79 seconds in the 100 metres final, when he won bronze behind Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.
On June 6, 2013, Gatlin beat world record holder Usain Bolt by one-hundredth of a second to win the 100 metres at the Golden Gala meet in Rome, Italy. On August 11, 2013, Gatlin won a silver medal behind Usain Bolt in the 100 metres at the IAAF World Championships in a time of 9.85. Bolt won the race in 9.77. Gatlin also took another silver in the 4 × 100 metre relay, crossing the line in 37.66 seconds, behind the Jamaican team that won in 37.36 seconds.
On September 5, 2014, Gatlin won the 100 metres at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels with a personal best of 9.77 seconds. He then went on to complete a sprint double at the meet, winning the 200 metres in a time of 19.71 seconds. This was the second fastest time of the season, behind his world lead of 19.68 that he set at the Monaco Diamond League earlier in the year. Gatlin's performances earned him a nomination for IAAF Athlete of the Year. Other athletes responded skeptically to Gatlin, questioning whether he is continuing to benefit from the banned substances taken earlier in his career. German discus champion Robert Harting requested to the IAAF that his nomination for Athlete of the Year be rescinded in protest at Gatlin being nominated.
On May 15, 2015, Gatlin improved his personal best to 9.74 seconds (+0.9 m/s) at the Qatar Athletic Super Grand Prix. His time was the fastest in the world since Yohan Blake ran 9.69 seconds in August 2012. It was the ninth-best performance in history and improved Gatlin's standing as the fifth best 100 metres athlete of all time. On June 5, 2015, Gatlin beat Usain Bolt's 100 metre 2012 Rome Diamond League record of 9.76 seconds, finishing with a time of 9.75 seconds.
On August 23, 2015, Gatlin finished second behind Usain Bolt in the final of the 100 metres at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing. Bolt's winning time was 9.79 seconds, with Gatlin 0.01 seconds behind. On August 27, 2015, Gatlin finished second behind by Bolt in the final of the 200 metres at the same event. His time was 19.74 seconds, 0.19 seconds behind Bolt's time of 19.55 seconds.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Gatlin received a silver medal in the 100 metres final with a time of 9.89 seconds. Usain Bolt, who won gold, had a time of 9.81 seconds. Gatlin also ran in the qualifying heats of the 200 metres. However, with a time of 20.13 seconds in the semifinals, he failed to qualify for the final. To qualify for the final, he would have needed to have run 20.09.
At the 2017 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Justin Gatlin won the 100 metres in 9.95 seconds, beating young favorite Christian Coleman, who clocked 9.98 seconds. In doing so, he broke Kim Collins' World M35 Masters Record of 9.96 seconds, and was 0.02 of a second away from breaking the World Masters All-Time record of 9.93 also from Collins. He opted out of the 200 metres after his Olympic disaster, which was caused by a rolled ankle coming off the turn.
Gatlin surprised many at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics by winning gold with a time of 9.92 seconds. He beat his American teammate Christian Coleman, who won the silver, and Usain Bolt (in his final World Championships) who earned the bronze. Several spectators booed at the result and IAAF President Lord Coe commented that he should have been banned for life. Usain Bolt, however, condemned the booing as unfair and emphasised that Gatlin worked very hard and thus deserved the victory.
In 2011, on the Japanese TV show Kasupe!, Gatlin ran 100 metres in 9.45 seconds (+20 m/s) assisted by large wind machines blowing at speeds over 25 metres per second. He received 2 million yen (approximately US$25,000) for appearing on the program.