Usain Bolt said he has no issues with top rival Justin Gatlin on Friday, ahead of potential Jamaica-U.S. duels at the IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas (Universal Sports, UniversalSports.com, Saturday and Sunday, 7 p.m. ET).
Bolt said last year he was in favor of banning athletes who cheat on purpose for life and has spoken against former top rival Tyson Gay receiving a reduced, one-year ban after he tested positive multiple times in 2013.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion, is five years removed from a four-year doping ban but has denied knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs.
“When it comes to Justin Gatlin, I think he served his ban,” Bolt told reporters in The Bahamas. “For me, it’s not an issue. Justin Gatlin’s a great competitor. … He makes the sport interesting. I look forward to running with him this season. It’s going to be interesting, because he’s been saying quite a lot.”
Bolt’s last 100m defeat came at the hands of Gatlin on June 6, 2013. Bolt beat Gatlin at the 2013 World Championships, but they did not go head to head in 2014 as Bolt raced a total of 400 meters in competition all season due to foot surgery.
Gatlin, meanwhile, ran five of the six fastest times in the world last year and was unbeaten. His fastest time in 2014, a 9.77, matched Bolt’s winning time from the 2013 World Championships.
In April, Bolt’s agent said, “I don’t know where the other sprinters are running, but I believe many meets would prefer not to invite athletes who bring negative headlines to their event,” according to Reuters.
Also Friday, Bolt said he will definitely not run in a 4x400m relay at the World Championships in Beijing in August. Bolt has often been asked if he would consider being part of the Jamaican quartet in that event at global meets but has yet to add it to his repertoire.
Bolt and Gatlin could go head to head at the IAAF World Relays in the 4x100m on Saturday and the 4x200m on Sunday (full schedule here). Gay is also in the U.S. 4x100m pool.