Oops! Track group says Gatlin's time 9.77 seconds

LONDON -- Not so fast, Justin.

American sprinter Justin Gatlin thought he broke the 100-meter world record Friday at the Qatar Grand Prix in Doha, earning the title of world's fastest man.

"I was very upset this morning but that anger turned to motivation. I want to be the first man to run 9.7 twice."
Justin Gatlin

It turns out he only equaled the record and will have to share it with Jamaican rival Asafa Powell.

A timing error prompted the sport's governing body Wednesday to take away Gatlin's announced record of 9.76 seconds. The International Association of Athletics Federations said his time was recorded at 9.766 and should have been manually rounded up to 9.77.

Gatlin's time has now been adjusted to 9.77 and, pending ratification, will equal the record set by Powell in Athens, Greece, on June 14, 2005.

Gatlin didn't grant interviews on Wednesday, but a statement he released through USA Track & Field showed he was perturbed that it took so long to get it right.

"It is very disappointing to me that it has taken five days to determine the official time of a race with this significance," he said. "I remain confident that I am the world's fastest man and I look forward to proving it once again. My parents raised me to be a good sport, but I don't want to share the world record."

Even in the often-wacky world of track and field, the mistake was unheard since the advent of sophisticated digital timing equipment.

"As a sport, it's embarrassing," said Craig Masback, executive director of USA Track & Field, "and I feel badly for Justin."

The error, and all the attention it received, only intensifies the already heated rivalry between Gatlin and Powell and provides some welcome attention to track and field halfway between the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

"He said he was ready to run faster this year," Masback said in a telephone interview, "and frankly I think it does create a lot of interest because you have these two great runners, both of whom are confident of running faster."

The IAAF said it acted after being informed of the error by Tissot Timing, the Swiss company in charge of the recording the times at the Doha event.

"The IAAF rounding rule, to be initiated manually on the timing system, had not been activated as instructed," Tissot said in a statement from its Swiss headquarters. "Tissot Timing regrets the occurrence and apologizes for this unique incident."

The IAAF uses times recorded to one-hundredth of a second, with figures always rounded up.

"We're very disappointed for Justin but we think he's got all the talent to get the record again soon," IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said. "It's better to have an honest result."

Davies said it's believed to be the first time a world record has been taken away days later because of a timing adjustment.

"It's an embarrassment to our sport that something of this magnitude could be blown like
that," Gatlin's agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, said.

"Justin's a trouper, he's a sportsman," Nehemiah said. "He recognizes all he can do is run, and that's what he did. He ran to the best of his ability."

The 24-year-old Gatlin, who is the reigning Olympic and world champion in the 100, received wide acclaim after being credited with breaking the most celebrated record in track and field.

"This was a perfect race," Gatlin said then. "I am a competitor and I promised I would get the world record and I have done it. ... Now I can say I'm the fastest in the world, and it
feels great."

Gatlin and Powell are scheduled to face each other for the first time this year at the Gateshead meet in England on June 11.

Powell, in a telephone interview from his home in Linstead in
northeastern Jamaica, declined to comment on the timing mishap, but
said he is ready to race against Gatlin. The two last raced in the
100 at the Prefontaine last June, with Gatlin narrowly winning in

"You can look for Asafa Powell not playing around anymore
because I played around last year and he beat me one time," Powell
said. "I'm just going to out there and go all out.

"I'll definitely be at Gateshead, so he knows where to find

The IAAF learned of the error Tuesday after Tissot reviewed the times from Qatar. Under IAAF procedures, formal ratification of a world record can take months. Meet organizers have to submit the officials results, photo finish, doping control forms and other data to the IAAF for checking.

"If Tissot hadn't announced it, we would have caught it eventually," Davies said.

Davies said IAAF rules specify that times must be to the hundredth of a second, adding that timing equipment wasn't yet sophisticated enough to accurately measure to the thousandth of a second. Wind speeds and weather and track conditions also come into play.

"You could never compare times to the thousandths due to all the conditions," Davies said. "The rule is clear. We are sticking to hundredths."

Davies said IAAF experts had checked and found that Powell was also measured at "9.76-something" when he set the record.

"It's 9.77," he said. "We are convinced that both ran around the same time."

When Powell set the record last year, he bettered the mark of 9.79 set by Maurice Greene in Athens in June 1999. Tim Montgomery's mark of 9.78, set in Paris in 2002, was wiped off the books when he was suspended for two years based on information uncovered in the
BALCO doping scandal.

Gatlin's previous best was the 9.85 he ran in winning the Olympic gold in Athens in 2004. His time was 9.88 when he won the world title last year in Helsinki, Finland. He also won the world 200 title.

"Justin still takes some solace in being the co-record holder," Nehemiah said. "This will just motivate him and inspire him."

"It motivates me to go out there and run even faster," Gatlin told Reuters after training in Durham, N.C. "I was very upset this morning but that anger turned to motivation. I want to be the first man to run 9.7 twice.

"When I broke the world record my plan was to break the world record again so nothing has changed," he added.

Gatlin and Powell will get their first chance to start sorting it out May 28 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. -- just not in the same race.

Both will run 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic, but the event will be divided into two eight-man fields, with Gatlin in one and Powell in the other, meet promoter Tom Jordan told The Associated Press.

That creates the intriguing possibility of one of the sprinters watching in person while the other breaks the world record or even one record-breaking race followed by another.

"It does kind of whet the appetite," Jordan said.

The two can't race against each other, Jordan said, because they are contractually obligated -- for a high fee -- to a match race June 11 at the Norwich British Union Grand Prix in Gateshead, England.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.