(Reuters) – Justin Gatlin’s father has asked the fans to lay off his son after the 35-year-old was booed inside the London Stadium while accepting his 100 meters World Championships gold medal.
American Gatlin, who has served two suspensions for doping offences, ruined Usain Bolt’s farewell on Saturday by beating the Jamaican sprinter in his final individual race.
“He is very strong and can deal with it. Only here. He only gets it here,” Willie Gatlin told the Times.
“The people booing need to read the reports. He has never committed a crime. They need to go and look at what was said.”
Willie said Justin had been fully rehabilitated in the U.S. and that he could be a role model for children.
“He gets invited into schools all the time and does lots of talks,” he said.
Gatlin was banned for two years in 2001 after failing a dope test for amphetamines found in prescribed medication he had been taking since a child for Attention Deficit Disorder. This suspension was later reduced to one year on appeal.
The sprinter then tested positive for testosterone in 2006 and was suspended for eight years, avoiding a lifetime ban in exchange for his cooperation with the doping authorities.
This ban, however, was also halved by an arbitration panel in 2007.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe reiterated his support for life bans for convicted drug cheats, using Gatlin’s example to show how legal systems worldwide have made it increasingly difficult to impose severe punishments on athletes.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)