Watson defends Olympic sprinter Gatlin from doping criticism


One of the prevailing themes in the Rio Olympics has been controversy surrounding previous doping violaters being allowed to compete.

Bubba Watson came to the defense of one such athlete in an interview with Time Magazine.

Watson was asked about U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin being able to participate in these Games, despite serving multiple track-and-field suspensions for doping, including a four-year ban after winning gold in Athens in 2004.

"Who cares about the past?" Watson said. "I mean, we've all had issues. People write negative things about me that aren't true."

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Watson and Gatlin both grew up in the Florida Panhandle. Watson said earlier in the week that he would be rooting for his fellow Olympian.

"I'm from Pensacola, Fla. There's a guy that's running, you may have heard of him, he's pretty fast, Justin Gatlin. So when you - obviously my hometown, obviously going to pull for him," Watson said on Tuesday.

"But obviously hometown ties, Pensacola, Fla., you always pull for your hometown. But it's a pretty amazing feat to compete with Usain Bolt."

U.S. gold medal swimmer Lilly King said that athletes, like Gatlin, who are caught doping should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics. Watson disagrees.

"What he did, true or not, I don't care about that," Watson said. "He's changed."

Gatlin is scheduled to compete in three events in Rio, beginning Saturday.