Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Gatlin’s return throws up 100 metres quandary

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If Justin Gatlin, back in action this week after a four-year doping ban, were to line up alongside Jamaican Usain Bolt in the 2012 Olympic 100 metres final in London, who would American fans want to win?

Having served his time, is former world and Olympic champion Gatlin worthy of his place or, as some have suggested, should all convicted dopers be forced to pin a massive asterisk on their vest to remind the world of how they made it to the top?

British athletics went through the same process with the return of Dwain Chambers and though British Olympic Association rules prevent him or any other convicted doper representing Britain in the Olympics, he has raced in European and World Championships.

As Chambers lined up in the European Championship final last week, former team mate and now TV analyst Steve Backley said that despite wanting to see a British medal he did not really know whether he wanted Chambers to do well.

Inside Track: This league has not reached the diamond level yet

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ATHLETICS/Might the Diamond League be snake-bitten in its initial season? Injuries and other setbacks have taken away a chunk of glitter from the initiative, which was to bring new fans and interest to the sport.

Out for the season apparently are two of the circuit’s biggest names, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Ethiopian distance king Kenenisa Bekele.

Inside Track: Waiting for the first sprint showdown

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ATHLETICS-WORLD/When will the Diamond League have its first sprint showdown?

That’s a frequent question from athletics followers whose appetites have been whetted by the fast early times of Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt.

We know, according to a Diamond League announcement, all three are scheduled to run a 100 metres in the August 27 Brussels meeting, but you can bet your ever-shrinking euro that Bolt and Gay will race in the same stadium before then.

Does athletics still rule the Olympics?

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Dash or splash? Which is the number one Olympic sport?

Athletics has massive crowds and Usain “Lightning” Bolt torching world records while swimming boasts Michael Phelps ripping off another bundle of world and Olympic records.

Conversations over the past week indicate the argument is heating up.

First, respected U.S. sports analyst Bob Dorfman suggested: “Because of the drug issues, because it (athletics) is not terribly compelling, I think swimming has taken over a little bit in terms of Olympic sports popularity.”

Gay dips under 45 seconds for sprinting milestone

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World silver medallist Tyson Gay’s name should be popping up on more Diamond League announcements after a milestone weekend.

The American became the first sprinter with personal bests under 10 seconds in the 100, 20 seconds in the 200 and 45 seconds in the 400 when he clocked a lifetime best 44.89 seconds for the longer distance at a meeting in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday.

Bekele deserves to beat Bolt as male athlete of the decade

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World record holders and Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Yelena Isinbayeva have been named athletes of the decade by the American magazine Track & Field News.

Russia’s Isinbayeva is an obvious choice with her 27 women’s pole vault world records but the selection of Bekele, the Ethopian distance runner, might have casual followers of athletics wondering why not Usain Bolt?

Ohuruogu to train with Bolt group in warm Jamaica

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ATHLETICS-WORLD/British Olympic and Commonwealth Games 400 metres champion Christine Ohuruogu is escaping the cold weather of London for the next three weeks to work in Jamaica with Usain Bolt’s training group, the Racers Track Club.

“I have never been to Jamaica before and am very excited about the trip,” Ohuruogu said in a statement. “Jamaican athletics is very strong at the moment and I want to go and experience their passion and excitement first hand.”

A Reuters Sportswrap of heroic proportions

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Sportswrap is back with a bang, as we take in Hideki Matsui’s heroic performance for the New York Yankees, Usain Bolt bottle-feeding a creature that will one day outrun him and Rafa Benitez trying to invoke the spirit of You’ll Never Walk Alone only to come a cropper in the Champions League.

Written by Kevin Fylan, presented by Owen Wyatt from our Canary Wharf studios and with a jaunty hat tip to Half Man Half Biscuit for the Liverpool joke.

Ricky Rubio and the Sportswrap speed special

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Ricky Rubio is the one that got away from the NBA. The number five draft pick opted to spend another year or two in Spain rather than join the Minnesota Timberwolves and FC Barcelona are understandably elated to have got him.

Click the video above to see Rubio celebrate his 19th birthday by helping Barcelona demolish Fenerbahce in the Euroleague. We also take a look at Jenson Button’s homecoming after his Formula 1 world title victory, and why batsmen the world over should be glad a certain Usain Bolt opted for track and field over cricket.

Usain Bolt: ultimate pace bowler

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Usain Bolt has long said that his first sporting love was cricket and earlier this year he caused a stir at Sabina Park in Jamaica when he turned up for the first test match against England. But, until Sunday, no-one knew if the fastest man in the world was any good with a bat or ball in his hand.

Bolt was invited to play in a charity tournament organised by West Indies opening batsman and fellow Jamaican Chris Gayle and according to some of the players I talked to had been talking a good game before putting his pads on.

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