Agent: Suspended Gatlin says he hasn't lost much
INDIANAPOLIS -- Justin Gatlin's agent says the suspended sprinting star still works out and still thinks he could be among the best in the world.
Instead of defending his 100-meter title at the U.S. track and field championships, which begin Thursday, and preparing for August's world championships at Osaka, Japan, Gatlin is awaiting a July 30-31 arbitration hearing on his doping punishment.
"I periodically ask him about if he's training, and then he'll allude to how good he's feeling and (say that) he hasn't lost much," Gatlin's agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, said Wednesday. "I personally try not to talk about it a whole lot, because I know it's a sensitive subject. I don't want to cause any depression, if you will. You can imagine that roller-coaster. So I talk to him about other things."
Gatlin won the gold medal in the 100 at the 2004 Olympics, then won that race and the 200 at the world championships a year later. When he came to last year's national championships here, Gatlin raced knowing he had failed a drug test a few months earlier.
"Just being here is bittersweet," Nehemiah said. "I know what the temperature was last year. No one else knew, but I knew."
Gatlin wound up winning the 100 in Indianapolis, a title that eventually was stripped.
That's because a couple of months later, he was given an eight-year doping ban -- which actually was reduced from a lifetime penalty in exchange for his cooperation with doping authorities and because an earlier positive drug test was deemed an honest mistake.
Nehemiah was asked Wednesday if Gatlin's desire to compete is intact.
"For sure. Without a doubt," said Nehemiah, a former world record-setting hurdler and former NFL player. "If it was up to him, obviously he'd be defending his double gold medal in Osaka. But that, unfortunately, is not in his hands right now."
FAST-TALKING BREAUX: Breaux Greer is quick with a quip. He also happens to be superb with a javelin in his hand.
Greer will take aim at a record eighth consecutive national championship in his event Thursday -- and, if he's to be believed, he might be taking aim at a fellow athlete somewhere in the stadium.
Asked Wednesday what distance might be needed to win, Greer -- who set the American record of 297 feet, 7 inches this year -- smirked and replied: "I don't know. But I've always had a goal to stab somebody at the other end. I don't think I can really walk away from the sport until I do that."
There were plenty more wisecracks and outlandish statements from the 30-year-old between gum chewing and sips from a coffee cup: Greer said he could throw a baseball 98 mph as a high school pitcher, put his surgery count at 11, and said a cheetah's ligament was used to repair his left knee during an operation last year.
And that's just the clean stuff.
He revels in his far-from-programmed monologue.
"I usually go off -- whatever comes to mind. Nothing is ever planned out. That's how I live my life, whatever happens, happens. Nothing is really planned out," Greer said, pausing for effect. "Except my retirement funds."
FELIX's 400: Allyson Felix is expanding her repertoire.
She's taken up the 400 meters with an eye to competing in four events at the world championships at Osaka, Japan, in August, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics: the 100, the 200, the 400 relay and the 1,600 relay.
"The 200's definitely my favorite, but the 100's a close second," said Felix, who has won an Olympic silver medal, a world championship title and two U.S. titles in the 200. "I love the speed of the 100. It's the 100. It's a fun event."
What about the 400?
"Not so fun," she said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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