Gatlin with Seagrave in Fla.


NAPLES — Four years.

Fourteen-hundred-and sixty-one days, including the leap year for those doing the math - a high school education, an election cycle.

For Justin Gatlin, sprinter extraordinaire, the last four years have crawled by slower than a slug with arthritis, and just as achingly so.

In that speck of time, Gatlin has shrunk from an all-time great in his sport into a pariah. He’s plunged from the skies of a seven-figure bank account and role model status into cashing unemployment checks and dismissed as a no-good, cheating laughingstock.

Humbled, Gatlin says what’s done is done. It’s about what’s to come.

“I learned be a man,” Gatlin said. “As a professional athlete, everything was handed to me. Things I needed to do, I had people do for me. No more.”

Cloaked in a sweat-soaked gray shirt and black tights after a workout at Velocity Sports Performance in Golden Gate last week, Gatlin, 27, said he isn’t focused anymore on the 1,461 days that comprise his ban from track and field for a failed drug test in 2006.

It’s the first day after, July 25, the day on which his ban expires and Gatlin is once again eligible to lace up the spikes competitively that has his complete attention.

“Some days I think about it,” Gatlin said about racing again. “I think I’ll be overwhelmed with emotion, power, rage, ready to fire out of the blocks and run until my shoes come off.”

In August 2004, Justin Gatlin stood atop the medal stand at the XXVIII Olympics in Athens, Greece, and received a gold medal around his neck for his performance in the men’s 100 meters.

The national anthem played. The Stars and Stripes unfurled. Gatlin, at 22 years old and standing in the very birthplace of the Olympiad, was the Fastest Man on Earth.

He became the bright, shining prince of a new era of clean competition in a sport soiled by a history of drug cheats and embroiled neck-deep in the BALCO scandal, which would result in a prison sentence for track icon Marion Jones and a federal felony conviction for Trevor Graham, who had coached both Jones and Gatlin.

Graham’s conviction for lying to federal agents was aided by Gatlin, who, facing no criminal prosecution himself, gathered incriminating evidence for authorities by recording phone conversations between the two.

In August 2005, Gatlin again graced the sport’s highest podium, this time at the IAAF Track and Field World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Besides winning the 100 meters, Gatlin also raced to first place in the 200 meters.

His name began being included among the sport’s greatest sprinters. Collecting appearance fees upward of $100,000 and a Nike sponsorship to boot, Gatlin’s income would soon approach seven figures.

In May 2006, Gatlin ran the 100 meters in 9.77 seconds – tying the world record. He was now officially, along with Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, the fastest man who ever lived.

In public, Gatlin talked of the importance of competing without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

“I understand what it would mean to track and field if I ever tested positive or went down in some scandal,” he told Sports Illustrated in a May 2006 article. “At this point that would be one of the hardest hits the sport could take. Not to have an ego about it, but that might be the KO for our sport. I know how important it is that I’m clean.”

However, that same month at the Kansas Relays, Gatlin tested positive for testosterone or its precursor. After the positive result was confirmed from Gatlin’s “B” sample by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in July, Gatlin’s failed test became known to the public.

Initially, Gatlin was banned from competing for eight years. Later, the penalty was reduced to four years – still, a seeming death sentence for a world-class sprinter.

The sport, dating back to 776 B.C., has managed to survive.

Gatlin has become an afterthought in track. His brilliant victories have since been eclipsed by 23-year-old Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, whose gold-medal performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in subsequent championship meets have rewritten the record books and ignited the public’s imagination, and its suspicions, too.

Gatlin still professes his innocence, claiming that he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs, that his positive test resulted from the machinations of a vengeful masseuse, Chris Whetstine, who he asserts rubbed a testosterone-laced cream onto Gatlin’s skin before he competed that day in Kansas. Whetstine has denied Gatlin’s accusation.

“I’ve always maintained that I’ve never taken performance enhancing drugs and I’ll always stand by that,” Gatlin said. “I’m responsible for not being aware of who I was around and their background and not researching them more.”

Beaten down by one denial or excuse after another by professional athletes trying to explain away the possibility that they actually cheated to achieve super-human performances, the sporting public rolled its eyes. It was the masseuse. Of course, it was.

Regardless where the truth lies in Gatlin’s case, he will be stepping into the starting blocks in July – sooner, if he is granted an early exemption. Regardless of the bad choice a 24-year-old did or did not make four years ago, Gatlin has lost a lot more than a race as a result of the positive test.

The robust income disappeared faster than the 9.77 seconds it took Gatlin to set the world record. The world record disappeared too, stricken from the books, as if it never happened. He still has his Olympic and world championship medals.

Between the beginning of his ban and now, Gatlin folded his corporation, filed for bankruptcy, collected unemployment, and flirted with an NFL career, taking part in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers mini-camp. The stress was so great on his family, his mother Jeanette’s hair began to fall out.

“I was never a selfish guy,” said Gatlin, who leaves Naples this week for his home in Atlanta. "All my accomplishments have been for my family, friends and fans. I think that was my lowest moment, thinking about what they had to go through, not just me.

"Them defending my name when they had to step out. Them giving up faith, where they prayed so much, they couldn’t pray anymore. It was hard for me to watch, to see them emotionally deteriorate from something going on with me. There were nights when I cried like a baby. There were days when I didn’t want to go out in public. I had to muster up the energy to take on the world again, on the track and off.

Unless some kind of evidence surfaces proving his innocence, Gatlin knows he will never be believed.

“People are going to say what they want to say and think what they want to think,” said Gatlin, who estimates the ban has cost him more the $5 million. “I could go out there and run a 9.5 and they’ll say, ‘He’s back at it again.’ But at the end of the day, I have to be Justin Gatlin. I have to go on living and represent who I am. That’s the best thing I can do and not get too involved in people’s thoughts.”

Gatlin has new coaches, Rana Reider and Loren Seagrave, founder of Velocity Sports Performance, operated locally by NFL Combine guru Derek Touchette. That’s what brought him to Naples along with other athletes from Seagrave’s Speed Dynamics team.

He hasn’t pinpointed his comeback meet yet and there is talk the sport isn’t anxious to have him back. There are reports that Gatlin won’t be invited to compete on the lucrative European track circuit.

[b]“I believe if I come out and run fast times that would rival a Bolt, then people will want to see me,” said Gatlin, who points out he has never lost to the Jamaican. "When I step to the line, I rise to the occasion. I think I have a bigger heart than a lot of the sprinters out there now.

“It makes me excited to start all over again. I’ve gone from the bottom to the top back to the bottom. Now I’m climbing back to the top.”[/b]

E-mail Scott Clair at

Get him Gatlin! I’ve always liked Justin as an athlete. The past is the past…we need guys with balls to step to Bolt and show him that he cant have his own way and gap the field by metres every race. Best of luck to him.

Loren Seagrave - why have i heard this name before?

The thing I’ll never understand in american sports is how one can earn so much money, and be broke the year after…with all the money he got in 2004 2005, I could live comfortably for at least 20 years…
However, good luck to him.
I know its on the verge of banned discussion, but, since track is a professional sport, isn’t an agreement among euromeets for not inviting some athletes a matter of fair job or antitrust in europe?

Antitrust of what? They also don’t want Dwain Chambers from the Uk on the grand prix circuit. Even his 6.42 seconds 60 meters indoors (last year) wasn’t remotely exciting enough for grand prix promoters to start offering him contracts for the summer circuit.

Under his previous situation; and as you put it "being broke the next year its called ATTORNEY FEES.


i dont see how any high level track athlete can succeed with an “NFL combine guru” ive always like gatlin as well but dont see this as a good situation

Seagrave is an NFL combine guru? I guess you must have forgotten about the literally over 4 dozen athletes he has coached to Olympic medals and the 5 NCAA titles he coached while being a head track coach. He’s been one of the most prolific track coaches likely in the world and definitely within the United States.

I saw a report that 78% of NFL players wind up divorced or broke after they exit the league.

As far as earning so much money, and being broke afterwords, a wealthy mentor I knew told me that when people make lots of money they also spend lots of money too (I saw in another article that Gatlin drives a Porsche, he could have bought a Honda)! So what happens is, when the income drops (and it will) they are still spending money to keep up the lifestyle that they are accustomed too and eventually it causes them to run out of money. It’s understandable, it’s only human nature to want to upgrade your lifestyle when you are given more fiat currency to play with.

So the key is, to make, say 100k but live as if you only make 50k. But how many people have the restraint to do that, especially athletes who are aggressive and in these days flashy? Also, I’m sure a lot of athletes get ripped off with shady business/“investment” deals.

Yea He never lost to bolt but that was when he was still a human. Bolt is an alien now. You dont think gay has the balls to step to bolt?You can have all the heart in the world but if you racing a cheetah and your just a gazelle you gonna lose. Some athletes may be scared of bolt but gay and powell arent one of them.

If only powell will run just as hard over the last 50 as he does in the first.

Bolt is still running 6.31 and 6.32 through 60m in his best races. Powell and Gay can run as hard as they want, they just don’t have the engine to do it (yet at least). Even if Powell or Tyson maintained their top speed throughout they couldn’t take Bolt at his peak.

I laugh we people make the above comments (i have no clue as to how you’re living so this may not apply)…The reality is when you make that kind of money you live accordingly. Therefore the Honda and the modest four door home is no longer good enough. Now you need the Porsche and Range Rover and 6 bedroom house on acres of land. Don’t forget you got to by a house for mom and maybe siblings. And of course you need to travel and stay in the best hotels…then you add the lawyer fees. :wink: So when you think of it like that you can see how easy one can be broke :cool:

Bolt would have been at most 19 years old at the time versus Gatlin 4 or so years older, BIG difference.

Time will tell how he goes and hopefully he can step up, the more competition the better.

That said how many have come back from bans and competed at the same or better level as before over 100-200m? :confused:

I know who Seagrave is, however the article implied that he would not be the only coach training him…“operated locally by NFL Combine guru Derek Touchette”. that is who my statement reffered to

I spoke to Seagrave and hes the only coach training gatlin at this time. Maybe the other guy is Gatlin weightlifting coach…

If you spoke to him, Ask him about Gatlin’s form in present time…

Your question is too general get a little more specific…

ok… Times over 50m or some practice times. Weight lifting and so on… Would be good to know :slight_smile: Thanx…

I’ll see what I can get, should have some information by Wednesday.