Sunday, January 31, 2010

Justin Gatlin aims for 2012 Olympics

Disgraced sprinter Justin Gatlin is aiming to compete at the 2012 Olympics.

Handed a four-year ban after failing a drugs test, the 27-year-old American, who won the 100m at the 2004 Olympics, is due to return to athletics in July.

Asked by BBC Radio 5 live whether he would run at the London Olympics, he said: "Everyone's worried about age but hopefully I'll be ready. I believe so."
"I've a lot to prove - adversity brings out a new athlete in me. I want to be able to hold my head up high again."

Gatlin was suspended after testing positive for testosterone.

"I look at my time away as not being injured or needing any surgery and maybe I'll have a longer shelf life because of it," he added.

"Guys like Frankie Fredericks had a great presence in the sport at an older age, and hopefully I'll be remembered the same way."

Gatlin has always insisted that he has never knowingly taken a performance-enhancing substance, though in the interview he apologies to "everyone I let down in the sport".

I had to take the punishment like a man for the last four years

Justin Gatlin

Gatlin said: "I was definitely angry at the sport [over his ban], but you know what? The sport didn't do this to me, regardless of how unique my situation has become.

"I let my people down, I let the world down for not being more careful. I am sorry for the actions that I have caused."

Gatlin also revealed that the last four years have been a difficult time for him.

He said: "You go through shock, denial, anger, depression - I went through all of that.

"This world [athletics] was all I knew and I had to wake up and see that there was another world out there.

"I had to take the punishment like a man for the last four years.

"I want to come back and run competitively again and run with the best if that's allowed."

But Gatlin knows he has to try to win over the doubters with long memories of the circumstances leading up to his ban.

"I did fight the ban," said Gatlin, who also won 100m and 200m gold at the World Championships in Helsinki in 2005.

"It was set for a lifetime then chopped down to eight, then four years. I'm just grateful that I still have the health and the ability to run again."

During Gatlin's absence, three-time Olympic gold medallist Usian Bolt has taken the sprinting field by storm.

Gatlin said: "He's a sensation and exciting to watch.

"Let me say that I am an athletics fan, I've watched all the major tournaments and he's brought the sport back up again.

"I see why he is a champion, he doesn't back down. Hopefully I'll get the chance to take him on in the future."