Justin Gatlin was a sprinting pariah. After being on top of the world by winning gold in the 100 meters at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Brooklyn native owned the title of fastest man in the world. He also earned silver medals in the 200 meters and 4x100 meter relay.
Then just two years later his world came crashing down thanks to a positive drug test.
Gatlin failed a drug test in 2006 and as a result was suspended from track and field for four years. The sprinter reportedly had excessive testosterone in his system.
His coach Trevor Graham had trained eight athletes who had tested positive or received bans for performance-enhancing drug use. That meant no one believed Gatlin when he professed his innocence.
During his time away from the sport, Gatlin even made a brief attempt at an NFL career.
Now, six years after that failed test and the shattering of his image and reputation, Gatlin has come all the way back to reach the podium in the 100 meters at the Olympics. On Sunday he finished third behind the incredible Jamaican duo of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.
It was an incredible, cathartic performance from the 31-year-old Gatlin, who turned in a personal best of 9.79 seconds. That time was also the best in history for any runner over the age of 30.
That bronze medal has to feel mighty good around his neck after all he has been through since 2006.
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