American Justin Gatlin leads the 100m final in London.
American Justin Gatlin leads the 100m final in London. Matt Dunham

Drug cheat spoils Bolt farewell party at worlds

HE'D threaten to spoil the party a number of times and unfortunately two-time drug cheat Justin Gatlin finally delivered.

The American stunned the London Olympic Stadium when he upstaged Usain Bolt in his final ever 100m race.

Bolt again got a horrible start and for the first time in a decade he wasn't able to recover with Gatlin claiming the world title in 9.92sec.

Fellow American Christian Coleman took the silver in 9.94sec with Bolt relegated to bronze in 9.95sec.

The greatest sprinter in history dived desperately at the line and waited anxiously for the result to come up on the electronic scoreboard.

When it did, a chorus of boos rang out as the realisation that Bolt had been beaten by the one man no-one wanted to see ruin his farewell party.

"I tuned it out (the boos) through the rounds and stayed the course. I did what I had to do," Gatlin said.

"The people who love me are here cheering for me and cheering at home.


epa06127395 Justin Gatlin of the USA reacts after winning the men's 100m final at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, Britain, 05 August 2017.  EPA/SEAN DEMPSEY
Gatlin takes off his shoes after victory. SEAN DEMPSEY

"It is Bolt's last race. I have had many victories and many defeats down the years. It is an amazing occasion.

"We are rivals on the track but in the warm-down area we joke and have a good time.

"The first thing he did was congratulate me and say that I didn't deserve the boos. He is an inspiration."

Bolt was disappointed he wasn't able to rectify issues with his start in the final.

"It's just one of those things," he said. "My start is killing me. Normally, it gets better during the rounds but it didn't come together."

Gatlin, who won the 2004 Olympic gold medal and the 2005 world title, was suspended for four years in 2006 for doping, the second time in his career he'd been busted for taking drugs.

Many believe the 35-year-old shouldn't be allowed to be competing but over the past three years he's been Bolt's closest rival.

At the 2015 world championships in Beijing, he got within .01sec of the Jamaican and was also the silver medallist in Rio last year.

Despite the shock result, Bolt did a victory lap as he savoured the second-last race of his career.

He will return later in the week in the 4x100m relay, seeking his 20th gold medal.

The last time Bolt wasn't the owner of a 100m crown in the past decade was at the 2011 world championship in Daegu where he beat himself, false-starting in the final.


United States' Justin Gatlin, second left, celebrates as he wins the Men's 100 meters final during the World Athletics Championships in London Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. United States' Christian Coleman, second right was second and Jamaica's Usain Bolt, right, was third. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Gatlin, second from the left, celebrates as he claims victory. Martin Meissner

There had been signs all year that the eight-time Olympic champion was struggling in his year.

Leading into London he'd only ran three 100m races and only once went under 10 seconds with a workmanlike 9.95sec in Monaco last month his best result.

Bolt had also been forced to visit his doctor in Germany after issues with his troublesome back.

In his first run at the world championships in Friday's head, he had trouble in the blocks and produced one of the worst starts of his career before eventually getting going to win in 10.07sec.

Then in the semi-final he was again slow out and couldn't catch Coleman, this time in 9.98sec.

It was his inability to get a clean getaway, a problem he's had all his career, which came back to bite him in the final.

Coleman was clearly infront at the half-way point of the final and with 20 metres to go Bolt, who was on his inside in lane four, started to surge with all eyes were on the pair as they charged at the line.

But it was the man over in lane eight who had found another gear with Gatlin producing a season's best performance to snatch victory.

The result is a PR disaster for sport which was already nervous about life without Bolt.

Given the drug scandals which have engulfed track and field of recent times including the banning of Russia from competing, having a convicted drug cheat claim the sport's biggest crown is as bad as it gets.