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Facing doping backlash, Justin Gatlin fails to make list of finalist for athlete of year award

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MONACO — Facing a backlash over his doping past, American sprinter Justin Gatlin has failed to make the list of finalists for the IAAF world athlete of the year award.

Gatlin, undefeated in the 100 and 200 meters this season, was among the original 10 nominees for the prize. But, after a two-week voting process, he was not among the three finalists announced Friday.

Gatlin served a four-year ban after testing positive for testosterone in 2006. His nomination had angered some athletes and officials, with Olympic discus champion Robert Harting of Germany withdrawing from consideration for the award.

IAAF vice president Sebastian Coe had also expressed serious reserves toward Gatlin's inclusion in the first selection.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100-meter gold medalist, was reinstated in 2010 after serving his ban. This year, the 32-year-old sprinter set the world's best times over both 100 meters, with 9.77 seconds, and 200 meters, with 19.68.

In an interview earlier this week with The Associated Press, Gatlin said he did not understand the anger given that he served his suspension.

"I'm sad to say that a lot of people out there feel that, 'Once a doper, always a doper.' But that makes no sense. That means you don't believe your system is working," Gatlin said.

The finalists are Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, marathon world record holder Dennis Kipruto Kimetto of Kenya and pole vault indoor record holder Renaud Lavillenie, who cleared 6.16 meters to take Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old mark in February.

The women's finalists are shot putter Valerie Adams of New Zealand, Ethiopian distance runner Genzebe Dibaba and Dutch double sprint European champion Dafne Schippers.

Dibaba set world indoor records at 1,500 and 3,000 meters, and won indoor world gold at 3,000. Adams was unbeaten while winning gold at the indoor worlds and Commonwealth Games.

The winners will be chosen by the IAAF's ruling council and announced on Nov. 21 at the annual awards gala in Monaco.

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