Raleigh: US sprinter Justin Gatlin will return from a four-year doping ban with two races in Estonia next month, he told reporters late on Monday.
Gatlin will launch his comeback with a 100 metres at Rakvere, Estonia, on Aug. 3 and will run again five days later in Tallinn, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion said in a telephone interview from Atlanta.
“It’s a relief,” said Gatlin, who has not run a competitive race since June 2006. “It definitely comes earlier than I thought it would.”
The 28-year-old regained his eligibility on Sunday after serving a four-year ban for a 2006 positive test for the male sex hormone testosterone and its precursors.
Many expected him to have difficulty finding races because of a Euro Meetings recommendation not to invite athletes who bring disrepute to the sport.
But organisers of the Estonian meetings, which are not members of the Euro group, said they would welcome Gatlin.
That left Gatlin scrambling to replace a lost passport before he, his mother and a coach leave for Europe this week.
“He has worked so hard to get back out there,” said Jeanette Gatlin of her son.
Gatlin described the comeback races as some of the most important of his career.
“I just want to have a good show and a good standing so people will say, ‘He looks good,’“ said Gatlin, who has been training with veteran sprint coach Loren Seagrove.
“It will be right up there on the same list with my world championships and Olympics,” the 2005 world double sprint champion added.
“If I had to put them all on a bulletin board in my room or a trophy case, the photo of my first race back will, if successful, be just like that.”