American Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in a stunning race at Bolt’s last World Championship on August 5. Gatlin won the gold medal in the 100m race in London. Christian Coleman won silver and Bolt finished third.
This was a big win for Gatlin, who won the 100m silver medal at the 2016 Rio De Janiero Summer Olympics. He last won Gold in the 100m at the 2005 Helsinki World Championships and at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. His other Olympic medals are silver for the 4X100m relay in Athens, bronze in the 200m from Athens and bronze in the 100m from 2012 London.
Gatlin has run with a cloud of suspicion hovering over him in recent years. The 34-year-old has twice been suspended from track and field for doping. He’s hoping to put that behind him, although even after successes on the track in the past five years, his past still follows him.
Here’s a look at the controversial Gatlin.
1. Gatlin Doesn’t Think He Should Be Considered a Two-Time Doper, Despite Being Suspended Twice
In 2001, Gatlin failed a drug test at the USA Junior Championships. It resulted in a two-year ban, although it was later lowered to a one-year ban. As The BBC reports, amphetamines came up in his tests, but it was later detirmined to be linked to medicine he was taking for attention-deficit disorder.
In a June 2015 interview with Reuters, Gatlin said that he doesn’t think he should be referred to as a two-time doper, despite that first failed test.
“Last time I checked, someone who takes medication for a disorder is not a doper,” Gatlin said. “Other people in the sport have taken the same medication I had for ADD and only got warnings. I didn’t.”
2. Gatlin Blamed His 2006 Failed Drug Test on Testosterone Cream, but His Massage Therapist Denied That
Gatlin has never admitted wrongdoing in either failed drug test case, although he did admit guilt in 2006 and to help USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) investigations. He was initially sentenced to an eight-year ban, but that was lowered to four.
“All he’s acknowledging is a positive test,” lawyer John Collins told USA Today in 2006. “He’s not saying he knowingly used drugs. When the facts and circumstances come to light, we hope the panel finds … he neither cheated nor intended to cheat.”
“If I felt like I did anything that I was trying to take away from the sport of track and field, then I would stand up and say ‘yes, I am guilty and I did this. Please have mercy on me,'” Gatiln told Reuters last year.
3. He Was Born in New York, but Moved to Florida When he was 9 & His Grandparents Have Been Major Influences
Although Gatlin was born in Brooklyn, New York, his family moved to Pensacola, Florida when he was 9, notes WJHG. His grandparents lived in Blountstown, east of Pensacola, and he called them out when he won the Athens Olympics gold medal in the 100 meter.
“Thanks Grandma and Grandpa in Blountstown, Florida. Thanks for giving me such great parents,” he said.
Gatlin’s mother, Jeanette, gained some attention in 2015 when she was the victim of a heckler at a meet in Beijing and her strong response to the heckler.
“She explained everything to him, that you can’t read what the headlines say, that you’ve got to know exactly what (the story) is,” Gatlin told The Associated Press about his mother’s encounter. She made him second-guess what he was talking about.”
4. Gatlin Says Son Jace Is Already Fast & Plays Soccer
Although Gatlin has not revealed who the mother of his 6-year-old son Jace is, he was willing to talk about how proud a father he is in a July 2016 Us Weekly interview.
“He says, ‘You better win, Daddy!’ Before my races, I’ll talk to my mom, my dad and my son. He’ll say, ‘All right, Daddy, you’ve got to win today,'” Gatlin said.
Gatlin also said that Jace plays soccer and is already fast, just like his dad. ““He’s already scoring three to five goals a game. He uses that speed to his advantage, for sure,” he said.
Jace was with his father at the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon in July. “I’m glad my son is here,” Gatlin told 3WireSports.
5. Gatlin Dreamed of Playing Free Safety in the NFL & Went to Buccaneers Training Camp During His Second Suspension
Gatlin had hoped to become a free safety in the NFL during high school and even played football during his freshman year at Tennessee. While in high school, he decided to try track because of a lack of playing time.
“I remember my coach was like, ’You’re gonna be sorry that you quit football.’ And I was like, ’No, you’re gonna be sorry that I quit,’” Gatlin told Fox Sports.
Gatlin had a stellar career at Tennessee, winning six NCAA titles as a runner.
In May 2007, while serving his second suspension, Gatlin resumed his NFL dreams, trying out as a wide receiver. He was invited to the Tampa Bay Bucceneers training camp. However, he did not make it to the team. He returned to track in 2010. He won silver in the 100m and 200m at the wold championships in Beijing in 2015.