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Gatlin says he is far behind top sprinters

Published:Saturday | August 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

TALLINN, Estonia (AP):

Justin Gatlin says he is capable of running under 10 seconds again, but admits he is far from catching up with top sprinters Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.

"They're flying high right now, like an airplane," the former Olympic 100 metres champion told The Associated Press yesterday.

"Once it takes off, it's flying high in the air," Gatlin said. "That's where they are right now. I'm still on the tarmac trying to take off and hopefully I will get right there with them."

Gatlin is preparing to compete at a small meet tomorrow in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, in his second race after returning from a four-year doping ban.

The 28-year-old American clocked 10.24 seconds in Rakvere, northeastern Estonia, this week.

"I'm looking for a better time than I did for my last race," he said.

Excessive testosterone

Gatlin won gold in the 100 at the 2004 Athens Olympics in 9.85, then tested positive in April, 2006, for excessive testosterone. He said with more training and competition he will be able to run below 10 seconds again.

"I think there's a bright future ahead of me once I put the power behind it and just go out there and run," Gatlin said.

The sprinter said he was touched by the "warm welcome" he has received in Estonia and was in talks about competing in other small meets in neighbouring Finland.