World Athletics Championships: Justin Gatlin 'not the problem'

Justin Gatlin
Justin Gatlin finished behind Usain Bolt in the men's 100m but the pair are likely to meet again in the 200m final on Thursday
World Athletics Championships
Venue: Beijing National Stadium, China Dates: 22-30 August
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Criticism of Justin Gatlin is making it more difficult to challenge the culture of doping in athletics, says four-time Olympic champion Michael Johnson.

The American's agent says the sprinter will refuse to talk to British mediaexternal-link as he was "vilified" after losing out on 100m gold at the World Championships.

Gatlin finished behind Usain Bolt, with the pair likely to meet in the 200m.

"Gatlin is not the problem. Half of the 100m finalists had tested positive. That is the problem," Johnson said.

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"The previous leadership in athletics probably would have said that because Bolt had won, all is right with the world. That Bolt has saved our sport.

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"That's what we're used to do, but that's not true. Gatlin will go away one day but that doesn't mean people aren't going to cheat.

"We have to educate the public that this is not just about Gatlin and that this could happen again.

"There is a public perception of 'I don't want to watch athletics anymore because I don't believe what I see'. We have to deal with that."

Gatlin's main grievance is with being referred to as a two-time drugs cheat.

His first drugs ban in 2001 was reduced from two years to one after he proved the amphetamines he was taking were for an attention deficit disorder.

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After winning the 100m and 200m double at the 2005 Worlds in Helsinki, the 33-year-old then tested positive for testosterone in 2006. He served a four-year ban that had been twice reduced from a lifetime and eight years.

Jamaican Bolt, 29, and Gatlin have both qualified for Wednesday's 200m semi-final, with the final in Beijing to be held on Thursday at 13:55 BST.

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