Ban Gatlin, Gay from Rio says US runner Montano

Rob Woollard

Los Angeles (AFP) - US distance runner Alysia Montano believes proven dope cheats should be banned from competing at the Olympics -- and that includes probable track and field team-mates Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay.

The 29-year-old 800m and 1,500m star is one of the biggest victims of the Russian doping scandal which has rocked world athletics, estimated to have been robbed of four medals by rivals who later failed drug tests.

Montano told reporters at the United States Olympic team media summit on Monday she believed US team bosses should take a zero tolerance approach to athletes who had failed drug tests by barring them from selection.

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Gatlin, the 2004 Athens Olympic 100m gold medalist has failed two dope tests during his career but has returned to competition and represented the United States at the 2012 Olympics as well as the World Championships.

Gay, who failed a drug test in 2013, returned to competition last year and competed at the World Championships in Beijing where he reached the 100m final.

Montano takes a dim view of the idea that Gatlin and Gay may well be her team-mates in Rio de Janeiro this August.

Asked if she believed they should be allowed to run, Montano told reporters: "No. I don't think so at all. As a US athlete I know 'Support your team-mates' and that. But my team-mates are clean athletes.

Montano, dismissed explanations both Gatlin and Gay had offered over the years for their positive tests.

"Excuses are like -- well, you know what the saying is. Everyone's got one," she said. "I think you are 100 percent held accountable for what you put in your body. You can't say 'Oh someone gave me a massage' or 'Oh I didn't know'.

"They have a list of what you can and cannot take. These people just want to play the naive card and we're too old for that. We're not in pre-school. Sorry. ... I don't care if that's a bold statement, it's true."

Montano said she had been left stunned last year after attending a music awards ceremony in which a convicted dope cheat had received praise.

"I thought 'What the hell is wrong with the culture of track and field?' Why can't we recognize that we should not celebrate old dopers? Once a doper always a doper," she said.

Montano finished fifth in the 800m at the 2012 Olympics, behind Russian gold medalist Mariya Savinova and bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova. Both women were recommended for lifetime bans from athletics after last November's bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency report that documented systematic doping in Russian athletics.

If confirmed that could see Montano elevated into a medal position.

"What I get emotional about is the fact that these people are stealing the idea from our children of what the idea of amazing is when they see incredible performances -- and that pisses me off," Montano said.

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