One of the world’s fastest men, Justin Gatlin (attended 2000–2002) became the first athlete since 1957 to win consecutive NCAA titles in both one hundred meters and two hundred meters, and led the Vols to the 2001 NCAA National Outdoor Track title and the 2001 NCAA National Indoor Track title. He won six sprint titles—four outdoor and two indoor—and went undefeated in the 2002 outdoor season.
In 2001 he was banned from international competition for two years after testing positive for amphetamines. He appealed the ruling on the grounds that the positive test had been due to medication he had been taking for a number of years for attention deficit disorder, with which he had been diagnosed as a child. The appeal resulted in an early reinstatement by the IAAF.
He left Tennessee to turn professional in September 2002, moving to Raleigh to train with Trevor Graham. Nike was his sponsor, and part of his contract called for Nike to pay four years of tuition so that Gatlin could fulfill his promise to his mother to get a college degree. He enrolled at St. Augustine College in Raleigh in January 2003.
In the 1994 Olympics, Gatlin won gold (100m), silver (4 by 100m relay) and bronze (200m) medals. In 2005 he won gold in both the 100m and the 200m in the World Championships. On May 6, 2006, running in the final of the IAAF Super Tour meeting in Doha, Qatar, he equaled the 100 m world record of 9.77 seconds. At first it was reported that he had beaten the record, but in a controversial decision, the IAAF determined on May 16 that his time had been 9.766 seconds, which was subsequently rounded up to 9.77 in accord with regulations.
He forfeited his World Championship title and received an eight-year ban from track and field August 22, 2006, for having tested positive for testosterone or other steroids. The ban was reduced to four years, but his appeal to have it reduced to two years in order to compete in trials for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing was denied. He returned to competition in 2010 and prepared for the 2012 Olympics. In his first competition, he won a 100-meter race in 10.24 seconds at the Bigbank Kuldiiga meet in Rakvere, Estonia.
The March 2010 issue of Track and Field News contained its choices for Athletes of the Decade (2000–2009). Among the groups ranked were Top 10 Collegiate Men, with Gatlin listed at number 7.