Team U.S.A.'s Justin Gatlin has been suspended twice for doping, not something Lilly King and others will let him soon forget

By Lindsay Kimble
August 13, 2016 08:00 AM

Justin Gatlin enters the 2016 Olympics as the oldest American sprinter to qualify for the Games in over 100 years. The feat has been overshadowed, though, by doping scandals reignited before Gatlin even hits the track.

The four-time medalist and rival of Usain Bolt will begin the Rio competition on Saturday with the Men’s 100-meter trials, followed, throughout the next week, by the 200-meter, and 4×100-meter.

Some don’t believe, though, that Gatlin, 34, should even have the chance, after not one but two doping offenses. The first, in 2001, was for amphetamines, thought it was later determined Gatlin was using them to treat attention deficit disorder. Two years after winning gold at the Olympics in 2004, he tested posted for excessive testosterone levels, the Associated Press reported. As a result, Gatlin was banned from professional running for four years.

When asked if she thought Gatlin should be allowed to compete this year because of his prior offenses, swimmer Lilly King seemed to slam her U.S. teammate.

“Do I think people who have been caught for doping offenses should be on the team? No, I don’t,” King said. “It should be set in stone. There should be no bouncing back and forth.”

Justin Gatlin (left) and Usain Bolt
GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images

Gatlin is headstrong, though, and told the AP on Wednesday, “the time has been served.”

“I’ve dealt with that punishment. I’ve moved forward.”

Winning an impressive five NCAA titles before even finishing his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, Gatlin opted to join the professional circuit in 2002.

Now, years beyond his ban, Gatlin is recording faster times than in 2004, reported NBC. Part of that, he said, is in thanks to more attention to his diet and a more grueling training regimen.

Bolt took center stage in sprinting during Gatlin’s absence, and, despite impressive performances in World Championships, the athlete seems unable to usurp his Jamaican competitor.

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Bolt has never lost an individual Olympic final in the three times he’s competed at the Games. Gatlin thinks this is they year Bolt will falter, though – namely in the 100-meter.

“He doesn’t have the best start in the world,” Gatlin said. “His transition has been a little shaky lately. But you never know. He’s not the type of guy you ever want to count out.”

The pair are friends though, even attending Oktoberfest in Munich together in recent years.

Gatlin, a father of one, is less focused on the played-out faux-rivalry, and more on his own success and redemption, though.

He told the AP, “I’ve worked hard, all the way from the bottom when I had nothing.”

“I worked hard to work back to where I’m at now. I don’t understand. The system has worked. I think people need to stop looking at trying to be the judge, the jury and executioner and let the system do its job.”

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