Seb Coe

Seb Coe has ‘big problems’ with Justin Gatlin on award list

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Seb Coe, the vice president of track and field’s international governing body, said he has “big problems” with his organization naming U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin as a candidate for its male Athlete of the Year award.

Gatlin, the fastest man over 100m and 200m this year, is four years removed from a four-year doping ban.

“I think you’d be pretty surprised if I did sit here and was sanguine about that,” the four-time British Olympic medalist Coe said, according to The Associated Press. “I personally have big problems with that.”

Current British athlete Dai Greene, the 2011 World 400m hurdles champion, questioned Gatlin’s times this season. Gatlin, 32, clocked personal bests 9.77 in the 100m and 19.68 in the 200m.

“He’s over the hill as far as sprinting is concerned — he should never be running these times for the 100m and 200m,” Greene said, according to the BBC, whose report cited scientists saying performance-enhancing drugs can affect muscles decades after use. “But he’s still doing it, and you have to look at his past, and ask how it is still affecting him now, because the average person wouldn’t be able to do that.

“It shows one of two things: either he’s still taking performance-enhancing drugs to get the best out of him at his advanced age, or the ones he did take are still doing a fantastic job.

“Because there is no way he can still be running that well at this late point in his career.

“After having years on the sidelines, being unable to train or compete, it doesn’t really add up – 9.77 is an incredibly fast time. You only have to look at his performances. I don’t believe in them.”

Gatlin’s agent, former 110m hurdles world record holder Renaldo Nehemiah, defended his client.

“Justin would have run these times, and faster, had his overzealous coach, Trevor Graham, not tried to get him there sooner than he would’ve naturally gotten there,” Nehemiah told the BBC, mentioning the coach Gatlin worked under when he failed a drug test in 2006.

“So, what Justin is doing right now, I’m not surprised by that.

“His body is rested for four years, so he wasn’t racing. And he was the talent that I always knew he was.

“It’s between the rest, and the talent that he always had, and the determination to prove everyone wrong, to prove that he was always this good.”

Coe and Greene’s comments came after German Olympic discus champion Robert Harting asked last week to have his name removed from the list of IAAF Athlete of the Year candidates because the list included Gatlin.

Gatlin was asked last week who he would vote for and said, “I guess it would be kind of cliché to vote for myself, huh,” and then tapped Qatari high jumper Mutaz Barshim.

“I say to Justin: ‘Listen, some people will never forgive you,'” Nehemiah told the BBC. “Forgiveness isn’t a part of their make-up, their DNA. This is a part of maybe your legacy that you will never overcome, because of what decisions you made years ago.”

A series of photos were posted on Gatlin’s Instagram page after the Coe and Greene stories were published.

Boston 2024 Olympic bid boosted by Olympians (video)

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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