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Justin Gatlin issues official apology to fans

SORRY: Justin Gatlin

FOLLOWING HIS World Championships 100m gold medal win over Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin has told ITV News that fans booing at him when he was on the podium ‘hurt’, saying, “I’m not there for myself. I’m up there for my country. I’m up there for my supporters”.

The American, who has twice served a doping ban, also gave his first direct ‘official apology’ to his fans for doping offences. He spoke with ITV News about recent events:

Q: You talk about how you’re dealt with by the press. Some say it’s because you’ve never apologised for your [doping] ban, never showed any remorse. Is that true?

JG: It’s not true at all. I wrote a personal letter to the IAAF, before the trial, before I was sentenced, I wrote an apology. I started a programme where i went and talked to kids and told them about the pitfalls of falling behind the wrong people, staying on the path, doing the right things. These are things I thought of doing on my own. I was a role model to the future. The ones coming along. I still feel that way. The letter I wrote, which came out in 2015, it was suppressed for almost six years and I’m not sure who or why they supressed it but I did apologise.

Q: But you have said sorry, so you don’t understand why people say you’ve never shown remorse?

JG Yeah, I can’t understand that. If they want an official apology, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I apologise for any wrongdoings I’ve brought onto the sport. I love the sport. That’s why I’ve come back and run to the best of my abilities. I have worked hard to right my wrongs.

Q: Is it important to you that people see you not as that bad guy?

JG: At first yes. I wanted people to respect me, to love me, to know I’m hard working like anyone else. I felt it fell on deaf ears. It took away my focus on being a runner. I was so consumed by what people were thinking about me and judging me. I really had to dial in and focus on being a runner and my natural talent through all the talking.

Q: What would your message be to those guys who booed you in London?

JG: Ah man. Go further than being a fan. Get to know an athlete…They all have stories, backgrounds, take the time to read the fine details rather than the headlines. Become a fan of the sport. Know who you’re rooting for and know who you’re booing.

Q: You’re saying those who booed you didn’t know you?

JG: I’d say so, I looked in the crowd who were barely half my age and definitely weren’t around in 2006, 2004 when everything happened to me. They couldn’t understand what I went through.

Q: How much did it hurt when you stood on the podium in London and the boos carried on?

JG: It did hurt because I’m not there for myself. I’m up there for my country. I’m up there for my supporters. I didn’t do it for myself. Especially at the starting line, I wasn’t there for me. I was there for people back at home watching who weren’t able to come. Maybe the boos were for me but me standing on the podium was for people that have loved me and my country that I love.

Q: Next time you come back to London do you hope the response will be different?

JG: I hope so. I love London. I love London. I enjoyed myself. I was walking through the streets and I was surprised by the well-wishers and people congratulating me. It showed me there are people out there who weren’t in the stadium booing.

This article appears courtesy of ITV News.

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