Paula Radcliffe has criticised Nike’s decision to award controversial sprinter Justin Gatlin with a new sponsorship deal, describing the decision as not reflecting “the core values of the Nike that I am proud to represent”.
Gatlin, who recorded the three fastest 100m times in the world last year, has already served two doping bans including a four-year suspension between 2006-2010. The 33-year-old American was previously sponsored by Nike but has instead been wearing Chinese company Xtep’s clothing since returning from his second ban.
According to a report by the BBC, Nike has agreed a deal to provide his kit for the next season in the buildup to the 2015 World Championships in August. The Oregon-based company will also provide kit for Tyson Gay, who was dropped by Adidas when he tested positive for a banned substance in 2013.
“I am very disappointed to hear this news,” women’s marathon world record holder Radcliffe wrote on Twitter. “I don’t believe it truly reflects the core values of the Nike that I am proud to represent, nor the integrity and the ideals of the people I work with on a daily basis.”
Her views were echoed by Jason Gardener, who was a member of Great Britain’s victorious 4x100m relay team at the 2004 Olympics. “Nothing surprises me but this another bad message being sent by our sport,” he said.
The IAAF was criticised last year for including Gatlin on its shortlist for athlete of the year. Discus thrower Robert Harting took his name out of the running, with the German telling Spiegel magazine: “It’s insulting for me and my fans.”
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