Justin Gatlin running away with Saturday's 200 at Hayward Field // photo courtesy USATF

Justin Gatlin running away with Saturday's 200 at Hayward Field // photo courtesy USATF

Track and field

Can Justin Gatlin be a hero?

EUGENE, Oregon — It was 40 years ago Saturday — May 30, 1975 — that Steve Prefontaine crashed his gold 1973 MGB convertible on a curve here on Skyline Boulevard and died. He is by now legend, myth, icon and the man that America wants its track heroes to be.

By all rights, amid this year’s running of the Prefontaine Classic, the guy who should be America’s track and field hero is Justin Gatlin. He won the 200 meters here Saturday in 19.68, eighth-fastest in history, a meet record. Gatlin’s challenge is not what he does between the lines. It’s what he says when he’s not performing. And how he handles himself, and his doping-related past.

Usain Bolt ahead of the second edition of the World Relays // photo IAAF and Getty Images

Usain Bolt ahead of the second edition of the World Relays // photo IAAF and Getty Images

Track and field

Bolt back in the spotlight

NASSAU, Bahamas — See, this is exactly the kind of thing that track and field needs, the spotlight on a seemingly relaxed Usain Bolt on Friday in advance of the second edition of the World Relays. Better yet still, what Bolt had to say.

Asked by a British reporter about Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, Bolt reiterated that he thought Gay’s recent doping ban was “unfair” and “sent the wrong message.” Then: “Justin Gatlin is a great competitor. He is one of those guys who talks a lot and [doesn’t] say a lot. So for me it makes the sport interesting, and I look forward to running with him this season. It’s going to be interesting. Because he has been saying quite a lot.”

2013-11-16 16.22.28

Track and field

Awards gala turns to doping talk

MONACO — Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the Jamaican sprint stars, were named Saturday the IAAF male and female athletes of the year.

To think it would have been anyone else would strain credulity. What, they were going to name Bohdan Bodarenko or Zuzana Hejnova? Only track diehards know he’s a high jumper from Ukraine and she is from the Czech Republic and runs the 400 hurdles. Come on.

14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 - Day Nine

Track and field

To quote Lenin, what is to be done?

It is good to be the king, and it is good — unless and until there is evidence of doping, which it must be said could be tomorrow and could be never — to be Usain Bolt.

Because when you are Usain Bolt, you win, and when you win, you celebrate like he did Sunday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, after yet another dominating performance by the Jamaican 4×100 men’s relay team to close out the 2013 track and field world championships.