From track to court, a big week in New York

Updated: May 29, 2008, 3:19 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Two of the world's fastest men were at a table in a New York hotel discussing their upcoming showdown in the 100 meters. A third was 25 blocks down the street, trying to save his career.

"Is Justin coming back?" Tyson Gay said Thursday, genuinely surprised when told defending Olympic 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin still holds out hope of making the Beijing Games.

Gay and Jamaica's Usain Bolt are the headliners at Saturday's Reebok Grand Prix -- Gay trying to rebound from a less-than-satisfying time (10.05 seconds) two weeks ago and Bolt trying to show that his 9.76 last month, the second-fastest time ever, wasn't a one-time deal.

The race was only part of the questioning, though.

Doping, as usual in track and field, was the other.

Their news conference came while Gatlin was across town, wrapping up a hearing in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, hoping to have his four-year doping ban reduced to two years to allow him to compete at next month's Olympic trials. And across the country, in San Francisco, former track coach of the stars, Trevor Graham, was found guilty of one count of lying to investigators about his relationship to a steroids dealer.

"I definitely understand that people have questions," Gay said. "People are going to question us because we've had athletes busted in the past. But I can't worry about it much. I know what I do. I know how I train every day, how I eat, sleep and run. I can't help what people talk about. People will have suspicions about track and field probably as long as track and field is going on."

Gay, the 2007 world champion in the 100 and 200 meters, is among the dozen American athletes who signed up for a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency pilot program that performs baseline testing of an athlete's body chemistry, then compares it with subsequent readings.

It's laborious. Gay had to give six vials of blood back in March to establish the baseline. Since then, he's been tested twice, including once with no notice. He said he didn't hesitate when asked to join the program.

"They said, instead of seeing people on the news and TV for bad things, you could be on the news for something positive," Gay said. "When they put it like that, it was all I needed to hear."

Gay's prime concern, however, is getting ready for Olympic trials, which are expected to lead to his first trip to the Olympics come August. What better test than a matchup against Bolt, the Jamaican who specialized in the 200 and 400, but added the 100 to his repertoire, mainly because he wanted to get out of running the more grueling 400.

"Right now, the 200 is my favorite race," Bolt said. "I've been working for years trying to perfect that race."

He's not quite sure which other race he'll focus on -- the 100 or 400 -- for Beijing, though Saturday could be a big step toward making the decision.

At 6-foot-4, Bolt was considered too tall to show top speed in the shortest sprint. His time of 9.76 in Kingston last month -- second fastest ever, behind countryman Asafa Powell -- surprised a lot of people.

"Once it sets in a little, you say, '9.76? Is that the world record?' It's close," Gay said.

Gay said he wouldn't be surprised to see the record inch downward over the next few months, especially if Powell gets back in the mix. Powell, whose 9.74 is the standard, is working his way back into shape from a chest injury and should be healthy for Jamaican national championships in June.

"There's no telling what could happen," Gay said. "Who knows? We could all run 10 seconds, we could be so nervous. But if you get us three guys in there, not counting anyone else out, the world record could go lower than that."

Actually, it could be four guys if Gatlin pulls an upset and wins his CAS case, which will be decided June 6, three weeks before the start of Olympic trials.

Not that Gatlin's possible return has been on Gay's mind.

"I don't know what he's been doing," Gay said. "I don't know if he's at home doing his sit-ups and working hard. I thought he was doing football. But with the work we've been doing this season, it'd be hard for him to come back and be competitive. I don't really see that."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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