Rule change means Gatlin ineligible for athlete of year
LONDON (AP) Even if Justin Gatlin manages to beat Usain Bolt at next month's world championships, he won't be eligible for the sport's athlete of the year award.
A rule passed by the IAAF Council in November stipulates that athletes found guilty of serious doping violations - including Gatlin - will no longer be considered for the award, the sport's governing body said Tuesday.
''No athlete who has been sanctioned for a serious doping offense will be eligible,'' IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said. ''This is the same caveat that is used when considering election to the IAAF Hall of Fame.''
Gatlin, who won the 100 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics but then served a four-year doping ban from 2006-10 after testing positive for testosterone, has been in excellent form recently. The American sprinter ran 9.75 seconds last week at a Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, and 19.57 in the 200 at last month's U.S. championships.
His results last season, when he ran the fastest 100 and 200 of the year, landed him on the list of 10 men in contention for the season-ending athlete of the year award. His doping past, however, led critics to complain that Gatlin should not be considered for the prize.
Gatlin was then left off the three-man shortlist, and the prize was eventually won by French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie.
At the worlds in Beijing, Gatlin is expected to be the main challenger to Bolt, the world-record holder and defending champion in both events.
In an extract from the minutes of last year's meeting, the IAAF wrote that the majority of the council members supported the recommendation because ''it enhanced the credibility of the sport, it protected the rights of clean athletes and it assisted in further establishing inappropriate behavior in the sport that would not be honored by the IAAF in the future.''
AP Sports Writer Chris Lehourites contributed to this report.