U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin is not eligible to win this year’s IAAF World Athlete of the Year Award due to a rule change, according to Reuters, after Gatlin was scrutinized for being a candidate for the honor last year, four years removed from a four-year doping ban.
The IAAF athlete commission recommended and the IAAF council approved that an athlete with a serious doping offense is ineligible for the award starting this year, according to the report.
“Several Council Members expressed concern that the IAAF could encounter legal challenges if the Athletes’ Commission’s recommendation that no athlete who has been sanctioned for a serious doping offense should be shortlisted for the Athlete of the Year award was approved,” according to minutes from a November IAAF council meeting, Reuters reported. “However, the majority of Council Members who took the floor supported this recommendation because it enhanced the credibility of the sport, it protected the rights of clean athletes and it assisted in further establishing inappropriate behavior in the sport that would not be honored by the IAAF in the future.”
Gatlin is undefeated since the start of 2014 and was one of 10 candidates for last year’s IAAF World Men’s Athlete of the Year Award but, after public backlash from Seb Coe and fellow candidate Robert Harting, was not among the three finalists.