Justin Gatlin has offered an “official apology” to those who booed him earlier this month’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships at the Olympic Stadium in London.
The 35-year-old from the United States admitted that his reception from spectators after the 100 meter final had “hurt”.
The race saw Jamaica’s eight-time Olympic gold medalist and fan favorite Usain Bolt finish third in his final individual race of his career, while Gatlin’s team-mate Christian Coleman got silver.
Gatlin, winner of the the Olympic 100m title at Athens 2004, regained the world title 12 years after first winning it in Helsinki – but it was one of the most manifestly unpopular victories ever witnessed on an athletics track and prompted an orchestra of jeers from the crowd.
Speaking to ITV News, Gatlin, who has twice been banned for anti-doping offences, said: “If they want an official apology, ‘I’m sorry’.
“I apologize for any wrongdoings I’ve brought onto the sport.”
Gatlin’s first drugs ban in 2001 was halved from two years following an appeal that a positive test had been due to medication containing a banned stimulant that he had been taking since childhood, when he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.
His second suspension, after testing positive for testosterone in 2006, was originally eight years but was halved again on appeal because of the circumstances of the first case.
Gatlin claimed at the time that he had unwittingly had testosterone cream rubbed into his legs by a massage therapist who had a grudge against him.
Asked about the widely held perception that he had never apologized for his doping bans, he responded by saying that was false.
“I wrote a personal letter to the IAAF, before the trial, before I was sentenced, I wrote an apology,” he said.
“I started a program where I went and talked to kids and told them about the pitfalls of falling behind the wrong people, staying on the path, doing the right things.
“These are things I thought of doing on my own.
“I was a role model to the future.
“The ones coming along. I still feel that way.
“The letter I wrote, which came out in 2015, it was suppressed for almost six years and I’m not sure who or why they suppressed it but I did apologize.”
By Mike Rowbottom
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.