DRUG cheat Justin Gatlin ran the fastest 100 metres in the world this year as he clocked 9.77 seconds to claim a dominant victory at the Memorial van Damme in Brussels.
The American, who has twice served doping bans, emphatically beat a world-class field to extend his unbeaten run to 17 races at the final Diamond League meeting of the season.
The time was a new personal best for the controversial sprinter at the age of 32. It in fact equalled the mark he set in 2006 – then an equal world record – which was scratched from the history books following his doping ban.
The win also earned him victory in the Diamond Race, the overall competition across all 14 Diamond League meetings of the year.
It all raises the prospect of Gatlin posing a very real challenge to Usain Bolt at next year’s World Championships, especially given the Jamaican’s fitness problems this season. The six-time Olympic gold medallist has ended his campaign.
The thought of a man who served a four-year ban before returning to the sport in 2010 winning a world title is one that many in the sport will find hard to stomach.
Great Britain’s former world 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene said on Twitter: “I enjoy watching athletics but it’s hard to do so when I’ve not raced because of injury and the coverage is full of drug cheats winning.” American Mike Rodgers finished second behind Gatlin in 9.93secs, while there was reason to cheer for Britain’s James Dasaolu after he ran a season’s best 10.00 in fifth.
The European champion declared himself “happy” with his run as he finished ahead of the likes of Tyson Gay, Nesta Carter, Richard Thompson and Kim Collins.
Elsewhere, Eilidh Child, another European champion, was third in the 400m hurdles in 54.76, and secured second place overall in the Diamond Race. “Great end to the Diamond League series tonight, delighted to have finished 2nd overall!” said the Scot on Twitter.
Gatlin’s superb form continued in the men’s 200m as he completed the double, with just an hour between races.
He once again decimated everyone else, powering around the bend and led the field home at a canter and even looked slightly disappointed to see the time of 19.71secs when he crossed the line.
Gatlin’s compatriot Allyson Fox took both the Diamond Race and the best time of the year as she came home first in the women’s 200m.
The 28-year-old returned earlier this year after a nine-month injury lay-off but was too good for the rest of the Brussels field and clocked a time of 22.02secs.
Myriam Soumare of France took second with a personal best of 22.11, with Great Britain’s Jodie Williams unhappy after finishing eighth. “That was awful,” she conceded. “But I can’t complain really as I have had a great season but that was probably a step too far for me.”