Should Gatlin be Allowed to Race?

The 100 metres can be one of the most enthralling events in the world of athletics especially with the superstars of Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Justin Gatlin all incredible athletes in their own right. Gatlin has clocked the fastest times this year by some way running under 9.8 a number of times.

The question is should the two time doping cheat be allowed to run and compete in the sport’s biggest events such as the Beijing World Championships in August or the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games next summer. The American served his first ban in 2001 after testing positive for amphetamines which he claimed was from medication. The next ban came in 2006 when the sprinter failed a test by USADA as he was taking some sort of testosterone boosting drug.

Justin Gatlin at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Justin Gatlin at the 2012 Olympic Games.

These tests led to bans but Gatlin returned and only three years ago he claimed the bronze medal at the London Olympics. The fact that he has been able to compete at all after his second ban mystifies me. As does the return of Jamaican drug cheat Powell who has been another one of the form runners this season. Then there is former Olympic champion Tyson Gay who received a one year doping ban in 2013 for using a banned steroid.

Asafa Powell only received a 6 month ban for using a banned substance.

Asafa Powell only received a 6 month ban for using a banned substance.

How can it be that these athletes that have cheated can be allowed to race? Especially in the prestigious events such as the Diamond League meets, World Championships or Olympics the pinnacle of athletics.

Justin Gatlin is likely to beat Bolt and Blake to the gold medal in China next month and for the drug taking cheat to win a gold medal in such a big, prestigious event is a horrific damnation of the sport to rise up this cheat as an idol for young aspiring athletes to try to follow.

Justin Gatlin after winning a Diamond League event in Rome.

Justin Gatlin after winning a Diamond League event in Rome.

How sporting brand Nike can still sponsor the American sprinter is sickening. For such a well thought of and popular brand to sponsor the substance abusing liar of an athlete doesn’t sit right with me. How can the other athletes with ‘clean’ records be expected to watch opponents like Gatlin or Powell pick up these plaudits when they have in the past been using banned substances?

I hope that one day athletics governing body the IAAF can show a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on substance abuse and hand lifetime bans to these athletes ruining the competitive spirit and overshadowing the incredible achievements of these truly remarkable athletes.

Arsenal: Preview

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Captain: Mikel Arteta
Top Scorer: Alexis Sanchez (25)

Arsenal are one of the best teams in the country and from November time onwards the north Londoners were in excellent form. They were exceptionally hard to beat at the Emirates Stadium last year.

Arsenal have this amazing ability to mix the sublime brilliance with the horrific mistakes that cost teams titles which may explain Arsenal’s decade long trophy drought which haunted Arsenal until the 2013/14 season.

They walked away from last season once again having shown the inconsistency we have come to expect from the north London club having been as low as 8th in early December they then couldn’t stop winning after beating Manchester City 2-0 on 18th January.

On 10th February they started a staggering run of eight league wins as they beat Leicester City 2-1. It could only be ended by Chelsea in a 0-0 draw. This amazing run of form is the type of form that has made Arsenal such a formidable force not just in England but also Europe during that run they also defeated Monaco 2-0 away but crashed out of the Champions League due to the away goals rule.

Two trophies for Arsenal though marked a terrifically typical Arsenal season, Wenger walks away with the FA Cup and the Community Shield which must come as a huge relief to Arsenal fans.

Arsenal after their 4-0 win  over Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final.

Arsenal after their 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final.

The revelation of last year was the Chilean midfielder Sanchez who arrived from Barcelona promising much and he delivered netting 25 goals in all competitions 16 of which came in the Premier League. He will be key to Arsenal if they are to mount a title challenge this season.

Alexis Sanchez celebrating one of his 25 goals last season.

Alexis Sanchez celebrating one of his 25 goals last season.

Arsenal have not had a busy summer having only recruited one senior player for next year. They’ve recruited the experienced Cech from rivals Chelsea. The Czech keeper spent 11 seasons at Stamford Bridge racking up 333 appearances for Chelsea and winning numerous trophies in that time. He may well fill a shirt that Ospina and Szczesny just couldn’t nail down last season.

New Signing Petr Cech posing in Arsenal kit.

New Signing Petr Cech posing in Arsenal kit.

The Gunners have seen two faces leave the Emirates Stadium, in the form of French defender Diaby and striker Podolski. The former France international spent nine seasons at Arsenal making 125 appearances for the club scoring 14 goals in the process. He failed to impress enough to make himself a regular under Wenger. Podolski arrived in 2012 but spent a large part of last year on loan at Inter Milan having failed to make the lone striker’s shirt his own. The capture of Danny Welbeck last summer sealed the German’s fate.

IN: Petr Cech (Chelsea, Undisclosed)

OUT: Abou Diaby (Free Agent, Free)
Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray, Undisclosed)

If Arsenal can replicate their form at the tail end of last season there is no reason they can’t finish 2nd and mount a serious title challenge. One thing is for sure it will be an interesting season for Arsenal.

My Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): 33 P.Cech; 2 M.Debuchy 6 L.Koscielny (C) 5 Gabriel 3 K.Gibbs; 34 F.Coquelin 19 S.Cazorla; 17 A.Sanchez 10 J.Wilshere 11 M.Özil; 12 O.Giroud

Bench: 1 W.Szczesny 24 H.Bellerin 21 C.Chambers 8 M.Arteta 15 A.Oxlade-Chamberlain 14 T.Walcott 23 D.Welbeck

Last Season: 3rd
Prediction: 2nd