It could have been a very short blog entry - Doper retires. Good riddance. Instead, whatever it is that Gault was trying to convey is a mystery. It's like he took swings at a piñata, blindfolded and standing in the wrong yard. He calls Gatlin's retirement "complicated" and "uncomfortable." What's complicated about a proven doper retiring, except maybe that he shouldn't have the opportunity to retire in the first place?
Gault begins the whatever-it-is with "Everyone loves a comeback." This, right here, is where the shit shoveling begins. He then goes on to, in one sentence, sum up Tiger Woods' complete bed shitting and give relevance to the golf world embracing Woods' triumphant return to winning the 2019 Masters. Regardless of the idiotically skewed moral compass of those lauding Woods' return to winning ways, using Woods as a parallel, similar story to that of Gatlin is patently silly. One man cheated on his wife -- a lot and is addicted to pain killers; the other is a doper who cheated other athletes. How and where are these the same?
Gault then lets Gatlin off the hook -- "As a young athlete, he made a mistake ..." before entering some sort of fugue state as he compares the purity of sprinting to team sports, blitz packages and defensive formations. Gault then has the audacity to say that "reasonable folk do not hold this first positive test against Gatlin." Oh? And, why is this? With Adderall being an amphetamine (banned, performance enhancing drug), why did he not apply for a TUE during collegiate and international competition? It is a known banned substance. And, with the knowledge it is a banned substance, why didn't Gatlin look into non-banned, FDA approved versions of ADHD medications? Let's for a moment allow that pre-first doping ban he and his doctor simply never had this conversation. What about after it? Taking the Adderall story at face value does not wash, especially when Gatlin said he was hyper-careful after his first doping ban to steer clear of any situation that might expose him to a second ban.
I know, I know. Call me crazy for applying basic rational thinking.
Right. So, on to Gatlin's second doping positive, for exogenous testosterone. Actions speak louder than words, so Gatlin's associations with slimeballs like Trevor Graham and Dennis Mitchell trump anything he may say about clean sport and every excuse he proffered up. Couple this with zero contrition and ownership of his cheating, and Gatlin deserves equally non-existent oxygen around his retirement. That the likes of Michael Norman, Grant Holloway and Allyson Felix paid respects to a doper says quite a bit about them as well. Omerta lives on because athletes in the dirtiest events in one of the most corrupt sports praise and prop up the cheats.
Gault provides a history lesson on Gatlin, from the not-so-subtle slant of licking the sprinter's boot heels. Because nowhere does Gault question Gatlin's rise to prominence between his two doping suspensions nor after his second, despite Gatlin running faster than ever before after his second ban. "What we do not know, nor can never [sic] definitively know, is how (the exogenous testosterone) got (in Gatlin's system)." Sure we can, you dolt.
When cheaters get caught, they dig in their heels. Excuses have gotten more absurd over the years. And, why not? That some of the most audacious, reality-bending excuses have worked means that a cheater's first line of defense is to say, "Look over there!" Deflection of ownership and statements about "not knowingly ingesting" this or that substance has become the broken record that's been atomized to vinyl dust particles.
It's rightly pathetic. And, yet, nothing will change. Because when those disseminating information about, in this case, track & field get paid for towing the line and not tossing a rock into the calm waters of corruption, then not only will nothing change, but everyone loses. Except the cheaters. Gault, Chris Chavez, Fast Women, Women's Running and so many more simply refuse to address the elephant in the room. They all refuse to ask about doping. And, in fact, you can find myriad examples of them defending dopers. Look no further than all the "we believe Shelby!" word salads that came out of the woodwork when Houlihan got popped.
Has any of them -- just one -- retracted their asinine missives? Has any of them backtracked even a single step from their adamant support of Houlihan? If any has, please share because I looked and could not find a single one. Apparently, it's OK to be dead wrong in defending the indefensible. But, ask the question, "I wonder if Athlete X is doping?" and you've crossed a line. The hear/speak/see no evil stance of those covering the sport ... it's like they're salivating as they check their pull-tab numbers while awaiting their turn at the World Athletics glory hole. The hypocrisy of this is mind numbing.
Don't mistake stating the already-known facts for any sort of investigative journalism. At the very end, Gault ties it all together by stating Gatlin's "saga is so unsatisfying. There is no redemption, no Tiger at the 2019 Masters moment." As if this is a bad thing. But, then Gault goes on to re-shit the bed, "when one four-year ban casts you as a doper for life, redemption may never have been possible." This is pathetic. Truly. It's a four-year ban on the back of a previous ban and on the heels of a massively meteoric rise in performance by Gatlin which included 2004 Olympic gold and a 100/200 double gold at the 2005 World Champs. But, somehow, exogenous testosterone was applied one time by a massage therapist in order to sabotage him. Huh.
And, then, let's not forget post-four-year ban Gatlin. He managed to run faster than ever before at an age when sprinters have zero business running that fast. Supposedly clean. Gatlin is the fucking ValvPiti of Track & Field, and we are to believe his second ascension to never before achieved personal heights was accomplished clean. Huh.
Any sport has the champions and heroes it deserves. If a serial doper who was banned twice is one such champion and hero to be idolized, then that speaks volumes for the institution of the sport, those covering it and its fans.
Gault, I think I just heard your number called, by the way.