Did you see Justin Gatlin run 9.74 for the 100m in Doha? No, me neither, but in my case I'll be going out of my way to make sure I don't see him at all...
May 2015, and the lucrative Diamond League series of athletics meetings opened in Doha. So many sports are going to that part of the world nowadays, because there is big money there, and sport is driven by money, more so today than ever.
The sponsorship money sloshes around, the TV money is starting to slosh around in athletics, the appearance money for the top athletes sloshes around, and everyone wins. Except maybe the poor old sports fan who, even if they find the money chasing a bit on the grubby side, can't do a lot about it.
Actually, the humble sports fan *can* do something about it - I'll come to that a bit later, but let me go back to Mr. Gatlin...
Gatlin was banned for 2 years in 2001 for amphetamines, but that was overturned on the basis it was down to medication he had taken since childhood. Then in 2006, 2 years after winning Olympic Gold, he tested positive again, this time for testosterone. He denied all charges, but in the end he co-operated with the authorities in order to get a lifetime ban reduced to 4 years.
Many in the athletics world have welcomed Gatlin back with open arms, but many others have not been so impressed, saying that he is still benefiting from the drugs he took earlier. No-one is actually saying he is taking drugs, because that would be libel or slander, but suspicions remain.
Seeing him run the fastest 100m by anyone in 3 years, at 33, does nothing to quell the suspicious mind. Still, there's nothing that can be done, right?
Well, as I said earlier, I think there *is* something that can be done, and it can be done by the people propping up the whole money structure driving sport, and that's the fans.
The money-go-round in any sport is dependent on the fans at the bottom actually watching. If the fans don't watch, the TV money dries up, the advertising and sponsor money dries up, the appearance money dries up, etc, etc.
In my own case, I watch so much sport on free to air TV, that I don't pay to watch any, because I'd struggle to find the time. That does mean I miss some of the big sporting events. As it happened, I didn't watch Gatlin in Doha, but had I been able to, I still wouldn't have.
That's the power that the humble sports fan can wield - just don't watch!
Make sure you get in touch with the broadcaster, and tell them that you are not watching any Diamond League event involving Gatlin, and also tell the IAAF, and maybe some of the big sponsors too.
They'll probably initially dismiss your contact, but if the number of people telling them that starts to build up, it can have an impact.
Emirates Airlines pulled out of football World Cup sponsorship due the whiff of corruption that has been surrounding FIFA for years, and they've put their money elsewhere, the English FA Cup for example.
I wrote to Coca Cola telling them I'd not be buying any more Coke while they were still a headline sponsor of the World Cup. They replied with a standard line that they had already published to the press about hoping things were cleared up quickly, but my note to them had been, er, noted.
So no, I didn't see Gatlin. I wouldn't want to see him, and not only will I not be watching if I get the chance, I'll be going out of my way to *not* watch him. Gatlin versus Bolt showdown? No thanks.