Mon | Dec 4, 2023

Gatlin is no role model

Published:Monday | August 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I cannot recall ever writing a letter to the editor, but after reading Garfield Goulbourne's August 12, 2017, column, I felt compelled to break my 40-plus years of complacency.

Two issues particularly struck me and caused me to write.

Mr Goulbourne lists Usain's Achilles heel as his tendency to "slacken up on training for partying". While I don't deny that Usain does enjoy going to parties with his friends and uses it as a form of release, I do not think it is fair to consider that a weakness.

Consider, if you will, that he has enjoyed partying for most of his career. Consider also that he has been unbeaten in the last three Olympics in all of his events and has dominated every single event he has competed in over the last decade and a half or so, with few exceptions. Everybody needs down time. Partying with his friends was his. But he always rose to the occasion and performed when the time came.

This leads me to the title of the column, 'Role model Justin Gatlin'. Mr Goulbourne discusses how Justin Gatlin has competed while crowds around the world booed him and questioned if this was fair. He speaks to Gatin's determination and perseverance, which I agree are tremendous.

Here is my problem. Gatlin cheated - plain and simple. The fact that he is now allowed to compete, after two drug bans, does not take away the fact that he broke the cardinal rule of the sport and violated the trust of the track and field institution, his fellow competitors, and the public at large.

I cannot agree with Mr Goulbourne in portraying Gatlin as a role model. I have many friends with children who are world-class athletes in their own fields of tennis, football, table tennis, and the like. I can also guarantee that they are not encouraging their children to be like Gatlin. He may be many things, Mr Goulbourne, but a role model is not one of them.