Justin Gatlin has been denied the world 100 metres record he had claimed at the Doha Super Grand Prix meeting last Friday in Qatar because an embarrassing mistake was made in the reading of the result.
The American world and Olympic champion was credited with a time of 9.76sec in Doha, which lowered the previous best - set by Asafa Powell 11 months earlier - by one hundredth of a second.
However, the world governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, revealed yesterday that the 24-year-old actually ran 9.766, which should have been rounded up to 9.77. The IAAF's Rule 165, 23b states: "Unless the time is an exact 1/100th of a second, it shall be recorded to the next longer 1/100th of a second."
It is an unhappy gaffe on behalf of the meeting organisers, but it will come as welcome news to Powell, who is still due to meet Gatlin in Gateshead on 11 June despite some doubts about whether the American will be there. The Jamaican had earlier reacted confidently, insisting that he would regain his record as soon as possible. "I'm not sure if it's going to be the next time I touch the track, but it will be soon," he said. It has come sooner than he could have expected.