|World Athletics Championships on the BBC|
|Venue: London Stadium Dates: 4-13 August|
|Coverage: Live across BBC One and Two, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the BBC Sport website and app. Click for times|
Justin Gatlin’s 100m victory at the World Championships in London was “not the perfect script”, says Lord Coe.
American Gatlin, 35, who has twice served a doping ban, pulled off a shock win to end Usain Bolt’s reign in the Jamaican’s final individual race.
“I’m not eulogistic that someone who has served two bans has walked off with one of our glittering prizes,” said Coe, who is president of athletics’ governing body the IAAF.
“But he is eligible to be here.”
Bolt, 30, had been favourite to secure his 20th global gold in the final major championships of his glittering career, but the three-time 100m Olympic champion had to settle for bronze, finishing behind Gatlin and his USA team-mate Christian Coleman.
Gatlin was booed by the crowd at London Stadium as he celebrated, but was embraced by Bolt on the finish line.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek, Coe added: “It’s not the perfect script. I thought Usain was very generous with the observations he made.
“That must have been a bitter event for him to swallow. He was bigger than the moment and it typifies his career.”
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Why was Gatlin banned?
In 2001, when he was still at college, Gatlin was given a two-year suspension for taking a banned amphetamine.
He successfully argued this was due to medication he took for attention deficit disorder and was allowed to return to competition after a year.
Then, in 2006 – having won the 100m and 200m double at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki – he tested positive again, this time for testosterone.
Gatlin was banned for eight years, avoiding a lifetime ban in exchange for his co-operation with doping authorities. This suspension was halved to four years on appeal.
After Saturday’s race, Jamaica’s prime minister Andrew Holness admitted he would like to see athletes who fail drug tests receive life bans, saying: “It’s the only way you’re going to fully ensure that people don’t cheat in the sport.”
In response, Coe added: “So would I and so would the majority of our sport. I’m not going to close the door on lifetime bans but we’ve constantly tried it and lost it.
“It’s worth remembering that Gatlin’s first ban was for amphetamines, and the case against him was at the more serious end. That then got watered down. We then had the second major infringement. We applied for an eight-year ban and again that got lost.”
What will happen at the medal ceremony?
The 100m medals will be presented at London Stadium at 18:50 BST on Sunday.
After the hostile atmosphere in Saturday’s race, some have questioned how the crowd will react to Gatlin standing on top of the podium – but Coe urged spectators to focus on the celebration of Bolt’s career as he bows out.
The Jamaican won 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold at the past three Olympic Games – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
However, his unprecedented ‘triple triple’ of nine gold medals was downgraded to eight after team-mate Nesta Carter, part of the 4x100m quartet in Beijing, tested positive for a banned substance. Carter has appealed against the decision.
Bolt is also an 11-time World Championship gold medallist, and has won the 100m title three times.
“I don’t know what will happen but we have to remember that we’re saying goodbye to an athlete who has done an extraordinary amount for the sport,” said Briton Coe, who won Olympic 1500m gold in 1980 and 1984.
“Gatlin is eligible to compete. It’s not the most exciting day in prospect for me but he has to be accorded some respect.”
British former sprinter Darren Campbell on BBC Radio 5 live:
Fair play to Lord Coe, he is trying his best to clean it up. We need to get radical and serious about this.
I just feel we have to get to a stage where athletes sign documents which say if they are caught up in any doping controversy then they are banned for life. We can’t have what happened last night.
I didn’t enjoy the booing, but I fully appreciate and totally understand why the crowd reacted that way.
I fear for the medal ceremony. The best way we can show we’re disgruntled is silence. We have two other athletes who will be part of that medal ceremony and, especially for Usain Bolt, you don’t want his last memory in the sport to be him on the podium with boos ringing around. And Christian Coleman’s first experience shouldn’t be so toxic.
American former Olympic champion Michael Johnson on BBC Two:
I’m not sure if Wada (World Anti-Doping Agency) would allow this, but I think there are things we can do that make it more difficult for athletes to come back.
As an example, prize money you have won over the years during the time you have been found to be using drugs – paying that back before you can get back into the sport.
Those are the sorts of things that I would like to see Lord Coe try to implement.