Andre DeGrasse

Justin Gatlin, on track for 2016

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EUGENE, Oregon — Before Saturday's big race at the 42nd Prefontaine Classic, the men's 100 meters, Justin Gatlin's coach, Dennis Mitchell, offered just a few words.

Nothing about times. No 9.5-craziness, no records this or that.

"Coach just gave me a handshake and said, 'Lay one down,' " Gatlin would say later.

Gatlin laid down a wind-aided 9.88 for the win. This was a no-doubter. Gatlin crossed the line with his left arm raised, index finger pointed to the sky: No. 1. At least on a Saturday in May in Eugene. More, here in Eugene next month at the U.S. Trials and presumably in August in Rio, to come.

Justin Gatlin meets the press after Saturday's 100

The men's 100 capped a day of sun-splashed performances at the Prefontaine Classic, the one and only major U.S. outdoor stop on the international track and field circuit, with athletes aiming to round into shape for the 2016 Summer Games and, for the Americans, the Trials, back here at historic Hayward Field.

The 2016 Pre, before 13,223, termed by house announcers a sell-out crowd -- not so much, as pockets and patches of bare seats throughout the stands would attest -- marked the second act of a four-part track and field drama this year in Oregon. Part one: the 2016 world indoors in March in Portland. Part three: the 2016 NCAA championships, in about 10 days. Part four: the U.S. Olympic Trials, in late June and early July.

What organizers called a "sell-out": bare spots in the stands at the end of the main straightaway

A number of stars proved no-shows at the 2016 Pre, citing injury or otherwise. Among them: U.S. sprint champion Allyson Felix, American long-distance runner and Olympic silver-medalist Galen Rupp and Ethiopian distance standout Genzebe Dibaba.

Those who did turn up put on, especially for May in an Olympic year, a first-rate show:

In the women's 100 hurdles, American Keni Harrison ripped off an American-record 12.24, the second-fastest time ever. Only Yordanka Donkova of Bulgaria, in 12.21 in 1988, has ever run faster. Brianna Rollins, who had held the American record, 12.26 in 2013, finished second Saturday in 12.53.

Emma Coburn also set an American record, in the women's 3k steeplechase, 9:10.76; Bahrain's Ruth Jebet won the race in 8:59.97, just four-hundredths ahead of Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya. American Boris Berian won the men's 800 in a convincing 1:44.2; just a couple years ago was slinging hamburgers at McDonald's; in March, he won the world indoor 800; a few days ago, the Berian saga took on yet another dimension over a contract dispute with Nike.

In the women's 100, American English Gardner ran 10.81 for the win, with two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica eighth and last, in 11.18; in the women's 200, American Tori Bowie ran 21.99, best in the world in 2016, with Holland's Dafne Schippers second in a really-not-that-close 22.11.

Kirani James of Grenada and LaShawn Merritt of the United States added another chapter to their extraordinary rivalry in the men's 400, James winning in 44.22, Merritt just behind in 44.39.

Jamaica's Omar McLeod continued his 2016 dominance in the men's 110 hurdles, winning in 13.06; Americans went 1-2-3 in the men's 400 hurdles (Michael Tinsley with the victory) and the triple jump (Will Claye going 17.56 meters, or 57 feet, 7 1/2 inches on his sixth and final jump, celebrating with a leap over the hurdle set up for the women's steeplechase, only to see Christian Taylor, next, go 17.76 meters, or 58-3 1/4, the two of them meeting after for a quick embrace).

In the men's javelin, Africans went 1-2: Ihab Adbelrahman of Egypt went 87.37, or 286-08; Kenya's Julius Yego took second in 84.68, 277-10.

Without Dibaba in the women's 1500, Faith Chepngeti Kipyegon of Kenya ran a Hayward Field record, 3:56.41. The prior mark: 3:57.05, from Hellen Obiri of Kenya. On Friday evening, Obiri, running this year in the Pre at the 5k, won in 14:32.02.

Also Friday evening, Brittney Reese won the women's long jump, in 6.92 meters, 22 feet 8 1/2 inches; Joe Kovacs the men's shot put, in 22.13 meters, 72-7 1/4; Alysia Montaño-Johnson the women's 800, in 2:00.78; and Mo Farah, the British distance star, the men's 10,000 meters, in 26:53.71. The top five guys in that 10k all crossed in under 27 minutes.

And then there was Gatlin, who figures heading into the Trials and Rio to have the spotlight trained on him, big time -- both for who he is and how, for most people who know about Gatlin's realistic quest to take down Usain Bolt, the way it all turned out in 2015.

At the 2015 Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, two weeks before last year’s Pre, Gatlin went 9.74. Only four guys have — ever — gone faster: Bolt, 9.58 in Berlin in 2009; the American Tyson Gay, 9.69, Shanghai, 2009; 2011 100 world champion Yohan Blake of Jamaica, also 9.69, at the Athletissima meet in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2012; Asafa Powell, also Jamaican and the first racer in history to run sub-10 more than 100 times, 9.72, Athletissima, 2008.

No less than five times in 2015 did Gatlin run faster than 9.79.

Back for the 2015 worlds at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, where Bolt had raced to Olympic gold in 2008, Gatlin settled into the blocks in Lane 7 with a win streak that stretched past two dozen.

The year, and even the rounds, pointed to Gatlin. He had cruised through, winning his semifinal in 9.77. Bolt had stumbled in his semi, collecting himself late to win in 9.96.

Then, though, came the electricity of the final itself.

Gatlin got off to a slow-ish start. Even so, midway through the race, Gatlin held the lead.

Midway through the race, Justin Gatlin had the lead in the 2015 worlds 100 over Usain Bolt, in yellow jersey // Getty Images

Then, though, came another stumble.

This time, it was Gatlin, trying to hold off Bolt, in Lane 5.

Maybe 20 meters from the line, Gatlin lost his form.

Bolt won, in 9.79.

Gatlin took second, in 9.80, one-hundredth of a second back.

A stumble about 20 meters out cost Gatlin the race, with Bolt, Lane 5, winning by one-hundredth of a second // Getty Images

Asked Friday at a pre-Pre news conference on how many occasions he has watched the 2015 worlds final, Gatlin said, “Countless times. I can’t lie about it,” adding, “I have to make sure I study what I did wrong and also what I did right, and also my opponents as well.

“It was,” he said, “a learning curve for me.”

Sure. But, specifically, how?

“One thing I learned,” he said, “is you can’t be too greedy in trying to get speed. There’s a certain point in the race where it’s humanly impossible for a person to get any faster. So, for me, it’s just to maintain that speed, stay in control of my technique and just go straight through the finish line.”

And this:

The American sprinter Mike Rodgers typically gets out to a fabulous start. Powell performs the race's technical transitions as well as anyone, ever. The Canadian Andre DeGrasse and Gay are going to, in Gatlin’s words, “come like a bat out of hell toward the end of the race.”

“So,” he said, “these are things that you predict — weeks before the race even starts.”

Gatlin didn’t run the 100 at the 2015 Pre. Instead, he focused on the 200, which he won in a — to use his word —blazing 19.68. Gay won the 100 in a comeback statement, 9.98.

For Gatlin, by design, aiming toward the 2016 U.S. Trials and Rio, this Olympic year has gotten off to a considerably slower start.

“The 100 meters,” Gatlin said, “it’s a crazy race. It’s about balance. You don’t want to take too much away from your start and have a powerful finish, because now you’re behind. So you have to have a good solid start. You have to have a good strong finish.”

He also said, “Going into this season, you see me having good starts. The times haven’t been as blazing as last year. But you can see the strength of me coming on at the end.

“I think maybe in Beijing,” meaning this year’s race, at the May 18 IAAF World Challenge event, “Mike Rodgers had a step or two on me coming out of the blocks. I just stayed calm and just commanded the race the second half.”

Gatlin won that 100 in 9.94, Rodgers crossing in 9.97.

“It’s like blinking,” Gatlin said of the various parts of a well-executed 100.

Meaning this:

The ordinary person typically doesn’t think about blinking but, rather, just does it: “Blink, blink, blink,” he said. In the same way, the time to process what the component parts of that well-run 100, and how and why, is in training. When it’s race day, it’s go time.

Just go. That’s how you run the 100 in the blink of an eye.

Gatlin went on, crafting a new analogy, referring to the champion boxer:  “I’m taking it almost like a Floyd Mayweather kind of — taking it round by round,” adding that he was “learning my technique, learning my craft, sharpening my skills and have my strongest round be the last round, the finals. Last year,” another boxing reference, ”I came out like a Mike Tyson — just swinging, knocking everything down.

“This year, I really — on a time level — don’t have a point to prove. I’ve shown the world I can run consistent, fast time. I’m strong, and I’m dominant. So this time I just want to make sure I get to the big dance, and I’m ready.”

The world lead coming into Saturday’s race at venerable Hayward Field in the 100: 9.91, by Qatar’s Femi Ogunode, at a meet April 22 in Gainesville, Florida.

Gatlin after the 100 with NBC's Lewis Johnson

And with fans, who waited patiently in the sun for autographs and selfies

Gatlin, in Lane 3 on Saturday, broke well, keeping an eye of sorts on Ameer Webb, in Lane 6, who has a solid Hayward history and had been running well, obviously in shape, early this year.

By halfway, the race was essentially over, assuming Gatlin could keep it together.

No problem.

The wind, which had been under the legal limit of 2.0 meters per second, blew just above during the race: 2.6. That made Gatlin's 9.88 wind-aided. After flashing that No. 1 sign, Gatlin jogged with the finish line tape wrapped around his neck, like a Bar Mitzvah streamer -- all to big applause.

Powell took second, in 9.94; Gay, third, in 9.98.

Rodgers got fourth, in 9.99; Ogunode, fifth, in 10.02; Webb, sixth, 10.03. China's Bingtian Su took seventh, 10.04. DeGrasse, who tied for third at least year's worlds, came up eighth, 10.05.

"I think all my races this year have been really calm and really relaxed," Gatlin said afterward, clutching a pair of Kenyan flag-colored flip-flops that a fan had thrown him.

Relaying the essence of many discussions with Mitchell, his coach, Gatlin has sought to make the course for 2016 elegantly simple:

“We just want to win. That is the motto for this year: just win. You know, it’s not about predicting what time is going to win, or [is going to get] the gold medal. It’s about getting on that line, competing, executing your race. Once you come across the line, you look across at the board and can be shocked like everyone else at the good time.”

That is yet more evidence of maturity and experience talking.

A lot of water has run under a lot of bridges since Gatlin was just 22 and won gold at the Athens 2004 Olympics in the 100, in 9.85.

In February, he turned 34.

The “20-something Justin was just happy to be there,” he said.

“You know, I think the 30-something Justin understands that now he is leaving behind a legacy — for himself, his family and his fans. So it’s something that’s a little bit more important. When I step to the line, I’ve got to make sure I’m not too antsy but at the same time not too calm, and not suck myself into the ambiance of the stadium and celebrating before the race is even over.”

Usain Bolt: still the 100 king

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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.

For any and all worried about the future of track and field or who believed that the men’s 100 final at the Bird’s Nest made for a referendum on sport or life itself, be assured — the sun was going to come up Monday morning all over the world, whether Bolt or Gatlin prevailed. All is not right, or wrong, because of one-hundredth of a second.

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

And now we all have the delicious anticipation of a year-long build-up to the men’s 100 at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Not to mention the 200 here later this week.

This is all to the good for track and field. Indeed, it’s awesome. The race Sunday drew worldwide attention.

As Gatlin's agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, would say late Sunday night, "It’s what our sport sorely needs. A sport needs a rivalry. A photo finish like that is great for the sport.

"It elevates Bolt even more," Nehemiah said, adding with emphasis, "It elevates Gatlin even more."

Even the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, weighed in, saying after the race, “Congratulation to Usain Bolt for a historic victory. So great to see him winning in the Bird's Nest stadium again."

Gatlin and Bolt ran together down the track until, just a few meters from the end, a few strides out, Gatlin lost his form — a break in the technique that, all along, he had said was his key. Bolt ran hard to the line while Gatlin sought to keep driving and not wipe out.

Bolt: 9.79.

Gatlin: 9.80.

The American Trayvon Bromell and the Canadian Andre DeGrasse tied for third, at 9.911 — a sign, perhaps, that the next generation has arrived. Both are just 20 years old.

"I definitely think this was my hardest race," Bolt would say later.

Referring to Gatlin, Bolt said, "I could see him stumbling."

He cautioned, "All the stumbling, it could have helped him, momentum-wise. I had to lean at the right time, and I did just that."

Gatlin is now 33. Eleven years ago, at the 2004 Athens Olympics, he won the 100. At the 2005 Helsinki world championships, he won the 100 and 200. The next year, he got tagged with a positive test for testosterone under circumstances still not fully explained.

Gatlin spent four years out of the sport, then started working his way back: bronze in the 100 at the London 2012 Games, silver at the Moscow 2013 worlds, in both instances behind Bolt.

Gatlin — under the tutelage of Dennis Mitchell, himself a former champion sprinter — had not lost in 2014 or 2015.

Bolt, meantime, spent most of 2014 injured — he would run one 400 — and had run a limited number of times in 2015, posting a 9.87 earlier this year in London.

The experts thought it would be Gatlin all the way.

Indeed, Paddy Power, the online bookmaker, had installed Gatlin before Sunday’s semifinals and finals as a 5/6 favorite for victory, with Bolt at 11/10. Shortly before the finals themselves, the odds changed: Gatlin 4/9, Bolt 2/1.

Ato Boldon, himself a former champion sprinter who is now an accomplished broadcaster, had declared Saturday on his Facebook page, “Semi finals for tomorrow. Final will shock everyone (except those with two eyes, who use them),” elaborating for the New York Times, “Gatlin is so head and shoulders above anyone else in this field in terms of execution, fitness and readiness that I find it almost comical that it’s being billed as a big showdown. Gatlin is going to put on a clinic, and everyone who makes that 100 final is invited.”

Bolt ultimately put on the clinic — and yet in far too many quarters of the English-speaking press, particularly the British media, the race was depicted as a straightforward contest of “good” and “evil,” the caricature rendering Gatlin as “evil” and Bolt, who has never tested positive, as “good.”

This tweet, for example, from the track and field writer for the Daily Mail:

Nobody was turning off their sets. Just the opposite. For those who might prefer a more sober approach, here was the BBC:

“… The public wants sport to be entertainment and to provide simple lessons in morality. It wants great stories, and the greatest possible story has an alternative narrative to that proposed by Gatlin and Bolt.

“The public wants Gatlin to be the bad guy and Bolt to be the good guy. That's why hundreds of millions around the world will be watching Sunday's final in Beijing — to see the bad guy get beat.”

For one, Gatlin is not a bad guy. He is a good guy. For real — great with kids and with fans of the sport, with a mission to make track and field as interesting to Americans, in particular, as an NFL game. Gatlin cares deeply about track and field, about his country and about his family.

Moments after the race, Gatlin sought out his mother, Jeannette. Asked what he told her, he replied:

"I didn’t say anything to my mother. Win or lose, that was my plan, to go embrace her. For the simple fact that my mother and my father," Willie, a Vietnam vet, "have been through my ups and downs with me. For them, it has been a journey. It has been a journey for me. I’m so happy they can be at every championship I have been at. I love them. I love them."

For another, the 100 is a footrace, not a marker for world peace.

Larry Eder, editor of the website RunBlogRun, which covers road running and track and field, had written, “I have to admit, I get really tired of the good versus evil and the big bad doper stories. It takes less much more work to write about the the pile of horse manure piled on the sport in recent times, than it does to write about one, how to change it, and two, what is actually going on in Beijing.”

Also Sunday, 13 months after giving birth to a son, Reggie, Britain’s Jessica Ennis-Hill won gold in the heptathlon; Joe Kovacs won the men’s shot put with a fifth-round throw of 21.93 meters, 71 feet 11-1/2 inches, the first American to win at the worlds in six years and Team USA’s first gold here in Beijing; the rounds of the men’s 400 were super-crazy fast, with 18 guys running under 45 seconds, two under 44; and the American Tori Bowie going 10.88 in the first round of the women’s 100, the fastest first-round time ever in the history of the world championships.

As the BBC noted in even the same piece, the “very idea of Gatlin as some harbinger of death for the sport of athletics is darkly absurd and comical in itself, given that generations of drug cheats have been doing their best to kill the sport for half a century.”

Nonetheless, at the post-race news conference, a reporter asserted that "a few of the other athletes in the race" said it was "important" that Bolt win. What did Gatlin think about that?

He replied, "I'm thankful."

"Anything more? Can you be more specific?"

"Specifically, I'm thankful."

"Is that what you have to say? It's an important issue for me, at least."

"Very important? Then I'm thankful."

Next question, from a different reporter: "Rightly or wrongly, do you think the IAAF are grateful you didn't [win]?"

"I'm thankful."

Nehemiah had said just minutes before, referring to the anti-Gatlin venom infecting so many in the media, "It's unfair. I feel badly for him because I know him personally. As much as I say to him, 'Let your running be your refuge,' he’s human. It’s sad we are reading the lowest common denominator."

He added a moment later, "At some point we need to rise above that. Because he himself doesn’t deserve that."

For those intrigued by numerology, Bolt's 9.79 matched exactly the 9.79 that Ben Johnson, of mega-doping fame, ran in Seoul in 1988. Make of that what you will, if anything.

Back in the real world, the unrelenting emphasis from the Daily Mail and others:

Four of Saturday’s seven prelims were won by athletes with doping records: Gatlin, who in addition to his 2006 difficulties also tested positive in 2001 for trace amounts of amphetamine owing to the use of Adderall, his prescription medicine for ADD; the American Tyson Gay, a one-year suspension for steroid use; Femi Ogunode, the Nigerian-born runner who runs for Qatar, two years for a stimulant; and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, six months for a stimulant.

Another American, Mike Rodgers, also qualified into Sunday’s semifinal; he got nine months off for a stimulant.

All but Ogunode would make it through to Sunday’s final.

In the first of Sunday night’s three semifinals, Bolt almost tripped coming out of the blocks — it looked like his bright yellow shoes with the green stripe on the side were maybe a stitch too long in front — and had to dig to win the heat, which he did in 9.96. DeGrasse, the Pan Am Games and NCAA champ, also crossed in 9.96.

Bromell finished third, in 9.99. Bingtan Su, fourth, became the first Chinese ever to go sub-10, also timed in 9.99.

"As an athlete, you can ask any athlete, any top athlete, if you start doubting yourself, you have already lost the race," Bolt said when asked if the semifinal stumble weighed on him going into the final, adding, "I never doubt myself."

All Gatlin did in the next semifinal was rip off the fastest worlds non-final time ever, 9.77. And he was taking it easy at the end, slowing with 10 meters to go.

Rodgers flashed across second, in a season-best 9.86.

Ogunode took third, in 10-flat.

In the third semi, it was Gay in 9.96, Powell in 9.97.

Thus, into the final, all four Americans: Gatlin, Gay, Rodgers, Bromell.

In the final, Gatlin drew Lane 5, Bolt 7, Gay between them in 6.

Mugging for the cameras before the start, Bolt smiled and made the kind of motion with his hands you might make on Halloween, as if to say, who’s scared?

Gatlin blew two kisses, then — as he had in the prelims and semis — made a show of strength with both fists.

Bolt, since his false start in the 100 at the 2011 Daegu worlds, has been a cautious starter. On Sunday, though, he was out of the blocks in 0.159 seconds; Gatlin, in 0.165.

Gatlin drew ahead, and stayed ahead, until about 80 meters. Then it got tight.

And then Gatlin gave the race away. As he said in a news conference, aiming for the line, he was "trying to get my momentum forward." He got too forward, and lost control.

It made for Gatlin’s first loss since Sept. 6, 2013.

Asked if he believed Gatlin pressed, knowing that Bolt was right there, Nehemiah said, "Extremely. Lost concentration."

He also said, meaning the race itself, "I still think it was epic for the fans."

Bolt, meanwhile, has to be given enormous credit for his performance come championship time — and his ability to keep on being the best in the world over a sustained period. He is now the 100 champion at the 2008 (and 2012) Olympics, and at the 2009, 2013 and 2015 worlds.

Bolt with his meme // Getty Images

He also just turned 29 — two days ago.

And still the king. After the race, camera crews urged him into his “To Di World” pose.

Asked about the difference between 2009, when he ran a world-record 9.58, and now, Bolt said, "I’m the same person. I’m just getting older. It’s about trying to get everything together throughout the season. It’s hard."

And it's going to keep getting harder.

Nehemiah, once more, referring to next year in Rio: "We could still have the ending we want. If [Gatlin] wins that, people will forget about Beijing."

Mo Farah: long-running king of his domain

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BEIJING — The 10,000 meters is why track fans who are track fans are, really, track fans and those who are not track fans, well, aren’t.

It’s 25 laps around the track. The best men in the world run it in about 27 minutes.

It starts slow and finishes fast. Really fast.

It’s a race of will, skill, tactics, tenacity and great theater.

On Saturday at the Bird’s Nest, the first night of the Beijing 2015 world championships, Britain’s Mo Farah affirmed his standing as the best in the world, winning the 10k in 27:01.13. Two Kenyans, Geoffrey Kamworor and Paul Tanui, took second and third. The American Galen Rupp finished fifth.

To the beat of 16 drummers banging on giant red drums along the homestretch, Farah — in his typical style — unleashed a ferocious kick over the last lap and particularly the final 100 to claim his fourth world championship gold. The winning time made for a Bird’s Nest record, by three-hundredths of a second.

Britain's Mo Farah sprinting to victory in the men's 10k // Getty Images

The 10k went down after an evening that saw another jaw-dropping Bird's Nest opening ceremony — no drums this time, as at the start of the Beijing Olympics seven years ago, but plenty of dancing, singing and more — and, then, the first rounds of the men’s 100, dominated by Justin Gatlin in a (slightly) wind-aided 9.83 seconds.

In women’s shot put, Michelle Carter took third, just the second-ever American woman ever to win a medal in the event -- and the American team's first medal of the championships. Germany’s Christina Schwanitz won, China’s Lijiao Gona grabbed second.

The drumbeat heading into Saturday at the Bird's Nest had been doping, doping, doping -- and not much else.

Rupp and the Somali-born Farah, training partners at The Oregon Project under Alberto Salazar, have for months been fending off doping-related inquiries.

Gatlin, in the minds of many in the press, particularly the feral British media, came here as the symbol of a sport ever-afflicted by doping, the consequence of his two failed tests, the first for ADD medication in 2001, the second for a testosterone bust in 2006 — even though a read of the record makes it abundantly plain such a characterization is entirely unfair.

Bolt, meanwhile, returning to the scene of the first of his Olympic golds and his 9.69, then a world record (he would lower it the next year at the Berlin 2009 worlds to 9.58), was cast as all-around good guy, maybe even savior of the sport — a role he explicitly, at a pre-meet news conference, declined.

Even the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, was asked about doping, and not just once, at a Friday news conference.

Bach's answers, meantime, ought to serve as a vivid reminder that the world can be fraught with moral judgments that don’t serve to accomplish much of anything. As Bach made plain, we live in a world of grays, not black and white — of rules, laws, transgressions, sanctions, redemption and opportunity.

Bach was asked whether he — emotionally — could get behind a lifetime ban for doping.

“If you ask me about my emotions,” he said, “I would say clearly yes, a lifetime ban I would still support.”

But, he went on, “I had to learn from different courts and lawyers, like [IAAF president-elect] Sebastian Coe and others who were asking for this, that this is legally just not possible. A lifelong ban would not stand any kind of challenge. We have to accept this.

“… If you have an athlete who has served his suspension, then he has the right to participate in championships. There I can remind you that we made an effort once to change this, for the Olympic Games, with the so-called ‘Osaka rule,’ “ which would have barred participation in the next edition of the Games for an offender, “and again we lost the court case — that this is not possible.

“The suspension is there and afterwards we have to treat these athletes in the same way like the others.”

A few moments later, Bach was given this example — if a civil servant makes a mistake, he or she is out of a job. Why not the same for an elite athlete?

“This is a different kettle of fish,” he said.

“We have had examples for the sentences, the judgments made by courts. It’s a legal question. We are not allowed to go further to take stricter sanctions. It’s a question of human rights. I’m not going to give you a lecture here. It’s a question of human rights, and we must admit these facts.

“Also, we must be conscious of the fact that the fight against doping is not only a question of sanctions. It’s also a question of efficiency of test systems, it’s prevention as well and other measures.”

Doping, doping, doping — and then, finally, Saturday night, some running and throwing. Would it quiet the chatter?

Not on your life.

Gatlin, asked the inevitable question in a post-race interview, said, “Understand it has been 10 years since I’ve done that. It has been 10 years since that happened to me. And I’m here doing better things. So everybody needs to drop it.”

In the first heat of the men’s 100, Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, in the inside lane, went 9.95 — the 91st official sub-10 of his career. (Only a skeptic would note that Powell, a former 100 world record-holder, himself served a doping ban.)

Next heat: the American Tyson Gay, into a slight headwind, 10.11 for the victory. (Attention, skeptics: Gay, the American record holder, 9.69, has also served a doping ban.)

Third: Femi Ogunode, the Nigerian-born sprinter who runs for Qatar, took the heat, in 9.99. (Skeptics: Ogunode served a two-year doping ban that ended January, 2014.)

Fourth: the American Trayvon Bromell, in his second international meet, his first major meet, rocked the occasion by bringing back the short shorts. In the outside lane, he eased up and still went 9.91 for the win. Yow.

Fifth: France’s Jimmy Vicault in an easy 9.92, Canadian Andre DeGrasse — the Pan Am Games and NCAA champion from USC — in 9.99.

Sixth: Gatlin gave the camera two kisses, then two fists together in a show of strength, then — in the outside lane — ripped off a wind-aided 9.83. Wind-aided but just barely — the wind .1 over the limit at 2.1 meters per second. The last few meters — Gatlin didn’t even run hard.

“I just did what my coach said," Gatlin said afterward, a reference to Dennis Mitchell, "and go out there and dominate the first part of the race.”

Justin Gatlin cruising to victory in the heats in round one of the men's 100. That's South Africa's Henricho Bruintjies also in the frame, who would finish third in the heat, 24-hundredths  back // Getty Images

Seventh: Bolt made a show for the cameras of “running” with his fingers. Settling in to the blocks, he crossed himself, then pointed to the sky. He then lumbered out of the blocks and jogged to victory in 9.96. The American Mike Rodgers (skeptics — Rodgers also served time off for doping) took second, in 9.97.

Bolt, afterward: “Overall, it was good,” fifth-best overall in qualifying, then conceded not “as great as I want it to be.”

That 9.96 was, for Bolt, fast for an opening round. At those 2009 worlds in Berlin, he went 10.2 in the first round; 2011 worlds in Daegu, South Korea, 10.1; at the London 2012 Olympics, 10.09; at the 2013 worlds in Moscow, 10.07.

Ultimately: Berlin, world record; Daegu, false start and DQ; London, gold; Moscow, gold.

Gatlin took third in 2012, second in 2013.

Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt after round one of the men's 100 // Getty Images

Bolt also said, “I know Gatlin was running very easy but that is how it is. I am not worried.”

Gatlin on Bolt: “He did the same thing in 2012. He ran kind of slow in the first round, picked it up in the semis, first in the finals.”

That’s exactly it — for all the intrigue of the first round, the semifinal heats will be far more telling.

As Maurice Greene, the Sydney 2000 100 gold medalist here as a broadcaster, had said Friday, “The semis is going to be able to tell a lot. It’s really going to show you if Bolt is really ready. Then you will be able to make your decision about the final.”

The 10k is, of course, far too demanding for rounds. It’s one shot, and one shot only.

In Daegu, Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeylan ran the last lap in 52.7; Farah, 53.36. Farah’s silver made for Britain’s first-ever medal in the 10k — but Jeylan was the winner, in 27:13.81.

Since then, in international majors, the 10k has been all Farah: gold in London, gold in Moscow. In 2013, Jeylan took second. The difference: Farah kicked the final 100 in 12.82, Jeylan 13.15.

In London, Rupp took silver; he had been eighth in Berlin in 2009, seventh in Daegu; then took fourth in Moscow.

No non-African born runner had won a medal at a 10k worlds since 1987, when Francesco Panetta of Italy took silver. Could Rupp?

Farah, meanwhile, was seeking to become the first non-Ethiopian multiple worlds 10k winner.

The first lap Saturday went 68:39. Typical.

The field went through one kilometer in 2:52.7, two in 5:32.1, three in 8:15 — a very quick 27:30 pace.

At 5k, 13:40, Rupp running sixth, Farah seventh.

At 6k, 16:22, Rupp up to third, Farah fourth.

By 7k, the 22-year-old Kamworor had made a move into the lead, at 19:06. He is the 2015 world cross-country champion, the 2014 world half-marathon winner. Tanui was second, Farah third, Rupp fourth.

At 8k, Kamworor was timed in 21:49.99, Farah 26 seconds back, Tanui 26-hundredths back. A third Kenyan, Bedan Karoki Muchiri, was 46-hundredths back. Rupp, 62-hundredths. Everyone else — far behind.

With three laps to go, Farah moved to the lead. Kamworor immediately took it back.

They stayed that way with two to go. On the homestretch, the drummers started pounding.

One lap: Farah in front, Kamworor on his shoulder, and the lapped runners getting in the way, Farah stumbling ever-so-much with perhaps 350 meters to go but just as quickly recovering.

Down the homestretch, Farah pulled away. That winning time again: 27:01.13.

Farah in victory // Getty Images

Kamworor — still learning how to run on the track and so a force with which to be reckoned come next year, and the Rio Games — crossed 63-hundredths back.

Kamworor joined two legends of the sport, Britain’s Paula Radcliffe and Kenya’s Paul Tergat, as the only runners to win worlds cross-country gold, worlds half-marathon gold and worlds 10k silver. No one has ever won gold in all three races.

Tanui took third, 1.70 behind.

"We worked as a team trying to beat Mo Farah," Kamworor said. "But he is a tough guy to beat. I learned a lot from this race. It was very tactical, very slow from the beginning but getting faster and faster.

"I must say I am happy for our performance, medal counts, and with such a fierce competitor as Farah, silver counts."

 Muchiri ran a season-best 27:04.77 for fourth, Rupp a season-best 27:08.91 for fifth.

"I'm definitely disappointed," Rupp said, adding, "I just didn't have it today."

Farah ran the last kilometer in 2:28.81, Kamworor in 2:29.46.

"I nearly went down," he said, "but I managed to stay on my feet, thank God, and win the race. I just get to keep doing what I'm good at, and that is running and winning medals for my country.

"I just have to concentrate on winning my races. I do it for my family and the people behind me, for my wife and my kids."

Farah ran the first 5k in 13:40, the second in 13:21.

Seven years ago in Beijing, knocked out of his Olympic heat, Farah ran 13:50.

His last lap Saturday: 54.14 seconds.

Talk amongst yourselves. The 100 final goes down Sunday night.