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US sprinter Gatlin vows to boycott British media over biased reports

Beijing: Accusing the British media of villifying him during the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Beijing, US sprinter Justin Gatlin on Monday vowed to boycott them in the future.

Justin Gatlin. Pic/AFP
Justin Gatlin. Pic/AFP 

Gatlin was suspended twice for taking banned substances and has been a controversial figure in the world of athletics since his return from a four-year doping ban in 2010.

The 33-year-old's clash with Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt in Sunday's men's 100 metre final was billed as a battle between good and evil - a battle for the soul of the sport - by a section of the media.

Gatlin - the pre-race favourite - was edged out by just one hundredth of a second by Bolt (9.79 seconds) in a closely contested final.

Footage posted on Twitter showed commentators from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) celebrating as Bolt crossed the line and Gatlin is understood to have shunned three different interviewers from the BBC after the race.

The sprinter believes he has been unfairly vilified not only by the BBC, but the rest of the British media as well, who he feels have focused disproportionately on his dope-tainted past.

"Justin, as well as I, feel that the British media and journalists have been extremely unkind to him. There's been nothing positive said about him now for some time. Every characterisation is solely about doping and vilifying him," Gatlin's agent Renaldo Nehemiah was quoted as saying by The Guardian on Sunday.

"So, to maintain his own dignity and self respect, he feels it best not to speak to them. It's very unfortunate, but he's been hurt tremendously by these attacks. And as human beings, we should be better than that. The BBC in particular should report without lacing their comments and reporting with biased views," Nehemiah added.

The US sprinter was first banned in 2002 after amphetamines were found in his system related to medication he had been taking for attention deficit disorder for 10 years. A two-year ban was later reduced to one.

His second ban in 2006 was initially for eight years but was later cut down to four. It was blamed on testosterone he claimed was rubbed onto his buttocks by a masseur with a grudge.

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