Controversial deal to see sprinter return to being a Nike-sponsored athlete after having served two doping bans

Justin Gatlin has secured a new sponsorship deal with Nike, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

It is a controversial move by the US sportswear brand, with the American sprinter having twice been banned for doping. News of the deal has prompted much reaction on social media, with marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, who is one of the sport’s most vocal anti-doping campaigners and is herself sponsored by Nike, among those to react to the news on Twitter.

“I am very disappointed to hear this news,” wrote Radcliffe. “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 there that I work with on a daily basis.”

Jenny Meadows, the 2011 European indoor 800m champion who has been denied a medal or a higher podium place a total of seven times by athletes who later failed drugs tests or were implicated in doping scandals, tweeted: “Gatlin gets Nike deal having served 2 doping bans when clean athletes lead world indoor rankings & have no funding or sponsorship! Justice?”

Gatlin, who was undefeated last summer and clocked 9.77 for 100m and 19.68 for 200m during the 2014 outdoor season, served a four-year ban from 2006 to 2010.

He had been sponsored by Nike prior to his second ban but as the BBC highlighted, Gatlin had been wearing kit by Chinese sportswear company Xtep since 2012.

The BBC added how Gatlin’s fellow American sprinter Tyson Gay, who also recently served a doping ban, is also set to sport Nike kit this season, though the BBC stated: “the company denies this is a result of a formal tie-in.”

This sponsorship news comes after the publication of statistic company Infostrada’s latest “virtual medal table” update which has made medal predictions for the Rio 2016 Olympics based on recent results. The latest update predicts that Gatlin will win 100m gold ahead of Usain Bolt next year.