Justin Gatlin, who made a return to the sport in 2010 after a four-year doping ban, has been nominated among the 10 men nominated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for this year's World Athlete of the Year Award.
Gatlin was the world’s fastest man in the 100m and 200m in 2014. Usain Bolt, who won World Athlete of the Year five times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013) in the last six years, is not a candidate for this year's World Athlete of the Year Award.
LaShawn Merritt, Gatlin's fellow United States compatriot, who returned to the sport in 2011, is also on the list of male nominations. Merritt served a doping ban that was reduced from two years to 21 months.
The 10 male candidates for this year's coveted award are:
Nigel Amos (BOT) — Diamond League 800m champion
- Mutaz Barshim (QAT) — Became No. 2 all time high jumper
- Justin Gatlin (USA) — Diamond League 100m champion, undefeated
- Robert Harting (GER) — Won 13 of 14 discus competitions
- Jairus Kipchoge Birech (KEN) — Diamond League 3000m steeplechase champion
- Bohdan Bondarenko (UKR) — Became No. 3 (tied) all time high jumper
- Yohann Diniz (FRA) — Broke 50km race walk world record, undefeated
- Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (KEN) — Broke marathon world record
- Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) — Broke pole vault world record, Diamond League champion
- LaShawn Merritt (USA) — Diamond League 400m champion
The 10 female candidates for this year's coveted award are:
Caterine Ibarguen (COL) — Diamond League triple jump champion, undefeated
- Francena McCorory (USA) — World Indoor 400m champion
- Sandra Perkovic (CRO) — Diamond League discus champion
- Valerie Adams (NZL) — Diamond League shot put champion, undefeated
- Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) — Broke indoor world records in 1500m, 3000m
- Dawn Harper Nelson (USA) — Diamond League 100m hurdles champion
- Dafne Schippers (NED) — European champion in 100m, 200m
- Kaliese Spencer (JAM) — Diamond League 400m hurdles champion
- Barbora Spotakova (CZE) — Diamond League javelin champion
- Anita Wlodarczyk (POL) — Broken hammer throw world record
In another development, Germany Olympic discus champion Robert Harting has remarked that he wants to be taken off the shortlist for the athlete of the year award as the list also features Justin Gatlin, who has been convicted of doping. In an interview to Spiegel magazine, Harting remarked it is insulting for him and his fans to be on the same list with Gatlin. Harting, the three-time world champion, said he is "officially asking" to be removed from the list.
An email poll involving the World Athletics Family has already started and will close on October 16 so that the lists can be narrowed down to three male and three female finalists. The winners will be announced on November 21 after an IAAF council decision.
Last year, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica won World Athlete of the Year awards. Fraser-Pryce was banned for six months in 2010 following a positive drugs test. The athlete however claimed Oxycodone was in her system due to a medication for toothache.