American sprinter Justin Gatlin says he is perplexed by the London crowd’s reaction to his unexpected victory over fan-favorite Usain Bolt in the men’s 100-meter final at the IAAF World Championships on Saturday.

Justin Gatlin 100m IAAF World Championships news

Gatlin — who previously won gold in the 100m at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005 — finished the race in a season-best 9.92 seconds to beat Bolt by 0.03 seconds and was heavily booed by the crowd at London’s Olympic Stadium.

Before Saturday, Bolt — who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics — had been the world record holder for both the 100m and 200m competitions, and was set to retire following this year’s IAAF World Championships. However, the eight-time gold medallist from Jamaica — who will be 31 later this month, finished bronze on Saturday in his final individual race.

Gatlin, 35, is one of the most notorious cheaters in the sport of sprinting. The Brooklyn native — who won gold in the 100m at the 2004 Athens Olympics — has been suspended twice for doping violations. On Saturday, Gatlin was jeered every time he was introduced before the 100m heats, semifinals and final. The loudest boos and taunts, however, came after he defeated Bolt, though they subsided somewhat when Gatlin stepped up to the podium to receive his medal.

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The American was banned for two years in 2001 while he was at college, and also served 12 months of his sentence for consuming a prohibited amphetamine after successfully arguing he had taken the drug as medication for attention deficit disorder.

Gatlin was also banned in 2006 for eight years, a suspension which was later shortened to four following an appeal, for testing positive for the prohibited steroid testosterone.

When asked about his opinion on the crowd’s reaction to his victory, Gatlin told CNN: “It leaves me scratching my head,” he said. “I’ve been back in the sport since 2010. I wasn’t booed in 2012, ’11, ’12 — which was still in London — ’13 or ’14 or ’15 and not that much in ’16.”

The third-place winner of the 100m race at the London 2012 Olympics also criticized the media for inflating his rivalry with Bolt, whom he said he admires and has a great relationship with.

“I understand why, you have black hat, white hat; good, evil, but I think it was sensationalized by the media between two people who have the utmost respect for each other,” Gatlin added.
 Gatlin also said he “tuned out” the noise from the crowd after a while to secure his victory over Bolt.
American Christian Coleman (9.94) won silver on Saturday.

Bolt will still attempt to win gold at the men’s 4x100m relay in London this year.

Nine of the 30 fastest 100m times, including the top four, have been set by Bolt. The other 21 times on that list belong to athletes who have, at one point, violated doping regulations.

In 2015, Gatlin also faced off against Bolt at the World Championships in Beijing for his first race after returning from his eight-year ban. The American had boasted a 28-race undefeated streak up until then and seemed likely to beat Bolt as the world-record-holder. Bolt ultimately won by 0.01 seconds.

“I’ve served my time,” added Gatlin. “I went through all the channels of getting back on the track and that’s how society is. You correct yourself in normal society. That’s what I’ve done.”
“I’ve tried to inspire younger athletes what to do, what not to do, and that’s what I’m here doing, just trying to be the best person I can be in life.”
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 05: Justin Gatlin of the United States wins the Men’s 100 metres final in 9.92 seconds during day two of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 5, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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