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Gatlin, Gay to face off in 200 meters in Monaco

AFP-JIJI

American sprinters Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin bring their rivalry to the Monaco Diamond League meet on Friday when they clash in the 200 meters.

Despite the withdrawal of Jamaica’s world silver medalist Warren Weir, who leads this year’s world list with 19.82 seconds but is now concentrating on the impending Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Gay and Gatlin provide star quality.

Gay returned to action earlier this month at Lausanne after a one-year doping ban, but was blitzed by former Olympic champion Gatlin who clocked 9.80 in the 100.

Former world champion Gay, 31, then won his second outing in the 100 in the Paris suburb of Montreuil 10 days ago.

The American was banned in June 2013 after testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid in two out-of-competition tests.

His ban, which was reduced from two years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) due to Gay’s cooperation, ended on June 23.

The 200 will also feature Alonso Edward of Panama, who is the second-fastest man over the distance this season with a best of 19.84.

America’s Curtis Mitchell, the world championship bronze medalist from last year, also lines up in the 200 as does France’s European 100 champion Christophe Lemaitre, and Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica, who has a 2014 best of 19.95.

In the 110 hurdles, Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt looks for a resurgence of form after a 2013 decimated by injury.

Merritt’s best time this year is a modest 13.78 — far off his world record of 12.80 — and he is not expecting a radical change of luck on Friday.

After running in London this Sunday, he will return to the United States to undergo a four-week training block.

“The 110 hurdles is a fierce, traumatic discipline. Liu Xiang is injured and Dayron Robles is no longer at the high level he once was,” said Merritt.

Liu and Robles were Merritt’s predecessors as the world’s fastest men over the hurdles.

In the 1,500, Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, the former Olympic and two-time world champion, has his sights set on breaking Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record.

The 24-year-old, who has dominated the four-lap race since 2008, is aiming to attack El Guerrouj’s 16-year-old world mark of 3:26.00 in Monaco.

“This is something I have planned since last year. That’s why I have decided to forgo all other competitions and I am now focusing on building my strength and technique for Monaco,” the 2008 Olympic champion said.