1. The first quote was given to an ESPN reporter; the second, on Sportscenter.
To be clear: this disrespect is coming from a runner who was banned from competition for FOUR YEARS because he doped. The doping rules and regulations are basically the opposite of perfect, but Gatlin was coached by Trevor Graham, who has a long history of drug connections.
Regardless of how you feel about the suspension, or the legitimacy of drug-testing in sports at all, this Olympics is supposed to be Gatlin’s return to majesty, where he takes his rightful place alongside Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay as one of the best sprinters in the world. He’s also supposed to have matured, as evidenced by this USA Today article:
Gatlin is 30, but he says you can trust him to be not only a mature challenger in London, but also a formidable one.
Even before he raced at the trials, he said he felt victorious having endured his ban.
“My life has been track and field since high school,” he says. “State champ. Full scholarship. Big pro contract. Olympic gold. World double gold. World record.
“I didn’t have time to really grow up … be a young man who pays bills and takes care of everyday life. Life is hard. This gave me an opportunity to understand life as a whole.”
And still he says things like this. In case you’re one of those laughing it off, let me be very clear here: Justin Gatlin’s comments were sexist as hell. He’s reducing his teammates, fellow Olympians representing the same country as him, to not only sex objects but also stereotypes of female belittlement. These two women, in the context of this quote, only exist for Justin Gatlin’s amusement; while he might think of all athletes as being entertainers, the only people who would be amused by two female athletes mud-wrestling would be men interested in demeaning them.
The problem is compounded by the fact that he said this TWICE. First, he made the comments about Jell-O wrestling; then, he reaffirmed his commitment to the idea on Sportscenter, except this time choosing mud as his medium.
Look, the Olympics are no less blemished than any other major competitive endeavor. But one would’ve hoped that Gatlin might draw some appreciation for what it means to be allowed to compete fairly and on your own merits from those four years he spent on the sideline. Clearly, he did not.
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