Ashton Eaton after crossing the finish line in the decathlon 1500 // Getty Images

Ashton Eaton after crossing the finish line in the decathlon 1500 // Getty Images

Track and field

A decathlon record but more U.S. relay woe

BEIJING — For this world championships year, 2015, the U.S. 4×100 men’s and women’s relay teams had one objective, and one objective only: get the stick around. Really. The trick was not to fall prey to the dropsies, oopsies and bumps in the night that have for far too long at major meets have plagued American entries.

With several young runners on the track and and the idea of using the 2015 worlds as an end unto itself but also a means of preparing for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the verdict Saturday: oops, again!

Justin Gatlin after his 200 heat // Getty Images

Justin Gatlin after his 200 heat // Getty Images

Track and field

Cut Justin Gatlin some slack

BEIJING — Dear friends and colleagues in the media, especially many of you in the British press: back off. Cut Justin Gatlin some real slack.

Instead of insight and the pursuit of the truth, what far too many of you have delivered instead is a simplistic caricature of events amid the 2015 world track and field championships that, regrettably, has led to the capacity to incite.

Usain Bolt crosses just ahead of a flailing Justin Gatlin // Getty Images

Usain Bolt crosses just ahead of a flailing Justin Gatlin // Getty Images

Track and field

Usain Bolt: still the 100 king

BEIJING — Usain Bolt did Sunday night what Usain Bolt does best, winning the men’s 100 meters at the 2015 world track and field championships, crossing just one-hundredth of a second in front of Justin Gatlin.

This was not, for the record, a morality play. This was, simply, an excellent race.

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.