Justin Gatlin wanted to prove he deserved Olympic gold. Tim Montgomery wanted to clear his mind.
Montgomery finished a disappointing seventh in the 100 meters at the Prefontaine Classic yesterday in Eugene, Ore., well behind Gatlin, the winner. The meet, at Oregon's Hayward Field, is part of the USA Track and Field's Visa Championship Series.
Tomorrow, Montgomery faces an arbitration hearing in San Francisco that will determine whether he can continue to compete because of allegations that he used performance-enhancing substances.
"I came out here just to race, just to see how I feel," he said. "As much as I try to go out there with a clear mind, I just can't kid myself."
Montgomery, the world record holder in the 100 meters, and girlfriend Marion Jones, a five-time medalist at the Sydney Olympics, have been linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO, which allegedly supplied performance-enhancing substances to several elite athletes.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is seeking to ban Montgomery from competition for life based on secret documents the U.S. Senate obtained last year from the BALCO investigation and then forwarded to the doping agency.
Montgomery is challenging USADA's recommendation before the Court of Arbitration for Sport during a closed-door hearing. He will appear, but he doesn't yet know whether he will have to testify.
Yesterday, Montgomery again emphatically denied ever using performance-enhancing substances -- either knowingly or unknowingly.
Gatlin, who won in the 100 meters in Athens, edged Jamaica's Asafa Powell at the line in a wind-aided 9.84 seconds. Montgomery's time was 10.10 seconds.
"I know as an Olympic champion, I've got to come out here and prove I'm the greatest," said Gatlin, whose track suit was trimmed in gold. Last year at the same event in the Prefontaine, Gatlin finished eighth -- in a field of eight.
The "Pre" is named after the late Steve Prefontaine, an Oregon native who ran in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Prefontaine died in a car accident after a race at Hayward Field in 1975.
In other events, China's Xiang Liu, the Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, made his U.S. debut and won the event in 13.06 seconds, a Prefontaine and Hayward Field record. American Allen Johnson caused a second false start and was disqualified.
Kenyan Eliude Kipchoge won the Prefontaine's special two-mile race in 8 minutes 7.68 seconds.
Reston's Alan Webb, who in 2001 broke Jim Ryun's national prep mile record at the Pre, was second in 8:11.48, breaking Bob Kennedy's record of 8:11.59 for a U.S. runner, set in 1999.
Last year Webb ran the mile at Hayward Field in 3:50.85, the fastest time for a U.S. runner in seven years. "Every time I run here at Hayward Field I manage to do something special," he said.
Maria Multola of Mozambique won the 800 meters for the 13th straight time, in 1:59.95.
In the 100-meter high hurdles, world champion Perdita Felicien of Canada won ahead of U.S. Olympic champion Joanna Hayes in 12.58 seconds.