Gatlin hopes to move on from chequered past

For Justin Gatlin, Sunday's 100m showdown with Usain Bolt at the World Championships presents him with an opportunity to show to the world that he is more than a 'drugs cheat'.

With doping remaining a hot topic of discussion ahead of the second biggest event on the athletics calendar, the upcoming Bolt-Gatlin battle is seen by many as the personification of the problems with the sport.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic and 2005 world 100 metres champion, was first busted for doping in 2001 when he tested positive for amphetamines and was banned for two years. 

The American maintained that the positive test was due to medication he was using to treat his attention deficit disorder, and upon appeal he was reinstated by the IAAF.

Another positive test followed in 2006, which would result in a life-time ban in most cases, but after agreeing to cooperate with various anti-doping agencies, Gatlin was let off the hook following a four-year suspension.

Since his return to the sport, the 33-year-old sprinter has been in the form of his life and is unbeaten in his last 27 races.

"Just remember I am more than four years. I am more than two bans," Gatlin said during a telephonic interview conducted with Reuters on Thursday.

"I have done a lot before, and I have done a lot after that."

Gatlin maintains that his first positive test resulted from medication that he had been using for years, while claiming his second positive result came through a testosterone cream a massage therapist used on his legs.

He added that the general public's opinion is of little consequence and that he simply does not care whether or not they accept him should he be crowned the new world champion.

"I really don't care what they think," Gatlin added.

"I am just a runner like he [Bolt] is a runner. There is no good runner or bad runner. We are just runners. No one is trying to take over the world. No one is trying to blow up the world.

"There are not going to be medals passed out to everybody in the world.

"It is going to be passed out to one person, the champion."

Even though he has set the fastest time in the world this year in both the 100m and 200m races, Gatlin admits that it would take a mammoth effort from anyone to beat the world record holder.

"On paper I am in the best shape of my life, and I am ready to do whatever it takes," he said.

"I would think a lot of people would say he does (have the much pressure).

"He has such a championship winning streak going on. But at the same time I have a lot to prove. I have a lot I want to get done. So I would say it is equal."

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