LONDON, October 8- Two-time drugs cheat Justin Gatlin’s nomination for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) athlete of the year doesn’t sit comfortably with IAAF vice-president British athletics legend Sebastian Coe, he admitted on Tuesday.
The nomination of Gatlin, who received a six year ban reduced to four the second time he tested positive in 2006 this time for testosterone, has already caused a furore with Germany’s discus star Robert Harting demanding to have his name withdrawn from the nominees list in protest.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist and double sprint world champion in 2005, belied his 32 years during an incredible season which saw him record the three fastest times this year in the 100 metres, and the fastest times in the 100 metres and 200 metres ever by a man in his 30s.
Coe, also chairman of the British Olympic Association (BOA), said he wasn’t happy with the fact Gatlin was competing and agreed with a recent University of Oslo study that the after effects of taking steroids and other performance enhancing drugs can last decades.
“The only thing I would say is that he is entitled to be competing,” said 58-year-old Coe, who won 1500 metres Olympic gold in 1980 and 1984.
“I’m not particularly comfortable about it. I think you’d be pretty surprised if I did sit here and was sanguine about that.
“I personally have big problems with that. I have long since believed that, particularly anabolic steroids, but performance-enhancing, muscle-developing drugs, have a long-term effect.
“I don’t wish to be dismissive about the Oslo research but I think anybody in the last 20 years that I’ve known in that world, particularly in sports physiology and biochemistry would tell you that’s certainly the case.
“The effect is certainly not transient and we’ve seen that in the performance of athletes for some time,” added Coe, who was speaking at the Securing Sport Conference in London.
Coe, who masterminded the outstanding hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games, said he is hoping to succeed long-time IAAF president Lamine Diack when the Senegalese steps down next year.
“I’ve always been clear, if I’m given the opportunity to shape the future of my sport, I will certainly take it.
“If there is a presidential election, I will want to stand for that.”