Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell have dominated the 100 meter sprint for the past few years. Asafa Powell set the bar at 9.77 seconds in June of 2005. Justin Gatlin broke that record in 9.76 on May 12, 2006, only to later be corrected and to have his time adjusted to a record-tying 9.77 seconds. The two were supposed to race each other on June 11th, but Justin Gatlin has been held up by a knee injury for the last few months. Asafa Powell equaled his 9.77 second performance from 2005 during the meet.
I have been looking forward to seeing a race between the two. I think that if both were at the top of their form, we would see them both go under 9.77 (weather permitting). However, this may not happen now.
Justin Gatlin has been a big supporter of cleaning up sports and keeping doping out of training. He was suspended for 2 years when he was 19 because the drug he took for ADD was a banned substance. He was pardoned a few months later, but the ban still stood and he still faces a lifetime ban for a second offense.
That second offense has apparently come, as he tested positive in April for high testosterone. His coach claims that they can prove it was a natural increase and not related to drugs at all, but apparently both A and B samples have come back positive. If Justin Gatlin is banned, and his 9.77 second record is retracted, then Asafa Powell will stand alone at the top of the world.
I still do not doubt that somebody will break the 9.77 second record some day. In fact, I expect that Asafa Powell will break it. I am not so sure that we are going to see two clean athletes break it in the same year, though. Nor are we likely to ever see two athletes race each other under it.
I really hope that Justin Gatlin really believes what he preaches, and that there was a natural explanation for his positive test and that he is proven innocent. I want to see him race, I want to see him succeed, and I want him to continue to be able to compete. However, if they can not prove he is innocent, then he deserves to have his matching record removed and we will never hear from him again.