World Championships: Bad guy tag does not bother Justin Gatlin

Usain Bolt v Justin Gatlin at the World Athletics Championships
World Athletics Championships
Venue: Beijing National Stadium, China. Dates: 22-30 August.
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, Radio 5 live, online, mobiles, tablets and app.

American sprinter Justin Gatlin says he is not bothered that people will cast him as the bad guy for his World Championship showdown with Usain Bolt.

Gatlin, 33, has served two suspensions for the use of banned substances while Bolt has never failed a drugs test.

Gatlin and Bolt will go head-to-head in the 100m and 200m in Beijing.

Bolt 'sad' doping doubts 'centre stage'

"I really don't care what they think, I am just a runner like he is a runner. We are just runners - there is no good runner or bad runner," said Gatlin.

"No-one is trying to take over the world. No-one is trying to blow up the world."

The build-up to the championships, which begin on Saturday, has been overshadowed by accusations of widespread doping in athletics.

It has led to Gatlin's meeting with Bolt being billed as a battle for the soul of the sport.

BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Beijing
"Should Justin Gatlin be crowned world champion after two doping bans, in the biggest of all its finals this Sunday, it would encapsulate for many what has gone wrong and is still going wrong with the sport.
"Athletics has always needed Usain Bolt, but never has its need been as great as this week.
"For Bolt, the pressure and expectation is both enormous and, on the two men's respective form so far this summer, possibly unrealistic, too."

Gatlin refuses to consider himself a dope cheat, having argued that his first positive test for a stimulant was a result of medication he had been using for years and claimed his second came through a masseur rubbing testosterone cream into his legs.

"Just remember I am more than four years. I am more than two bans," Gatlin said.

"I have done a lot before, and I have done a lot after that."

The American has the quickest times of the year over 100m and 200m, and is unbeaten since 2013 in a total of 27 races in both sprints.

"On paper I am in the best shape of my life, and I am ready to do whatever it takes," Gatlin added.

"There are not going to be medals passed out to everybody in the world. It is going to be passed out to one person, the champion."

And on the challenge of facing Bolt, he added: "He has such a championship-winning streak going on. But at the same time I have a lot to prove. I have a lot I want to get done. So I would say it is equal."

Meanwhile, outgoing International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack claims that doping only concerns a tiny number of competitors.

"We are convinced 99% of our athletes are clean," Diack said.

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