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Athletics: Gay set for comeback against Gatlin and Rodgers

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

American Tyson Gay makes his comeback to the track on Thursday after serving a one-year doping ban in what promises to be a stern test against fellow Americans Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers.

World athletics' governing body, the IAAF, announced last week that it would not appeal the reduced one-year sanction for doping served by Gay.

Gay 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.

And the IAAF said that it would not appeal the reduced sanction, calling it "appropriate under the circumstances and in accordance with IAAF Rules".

"Lausanne has always been one of my favourite meets, and I'm thrilled to have it be my opening meet of 2014," said Gay.

"I have run fast times here. I have been training for several months, and will be ready on July 3."

Ironically, Gay's main opposition will come from two sprinters who have also served doping bans.

Gatlin won Olympic 100m gold in the Athens Games in 2004 and bronze in London eight years later, but also served a four-year ban between 2006-10, while newly-crowned US champion Rodgers sat out of action for nine months in 2011 after failing a drugs test.

In the absence of Jamaica's Usain Bolt, still working on his rehabilitation from a longstanding leg injury, Gatlin is the world's fastest man this season, having clocked 9.86sec in windy Ostrava.

Rodgers finished second on that night in 10.08sec, but went on to win last weekend's US track and field championships, attended by neither Gay nor Gatlin, in 10.09sec, his season's best six-hundredths faster than that.

"Hopefully Tyson and Gatlin will have seen what I did here," said the 29-year-old Rodgers.

A total of 17 Olympic and world champions will be part of the line-up for the 39th edition of the IAAF Diamond League event Athletissima at the Pontaise Stadium.

One event in particular will be of the highest standard: the men's high jump.

With a host of jumpers eyeing Cuban Javier Sotomayor's 1993 record of 2.45m, Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko (2.42m), Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim (2.42m), Russian Ivan Ukhov (2.41m) and Canada's Derek Drouin (2.40m) are sure to offer up some high-level competition.

Other action in the field will see French world pole vault record holder Renaud Lavillenie aiming for a fourth Diamond League victory of the year, while New Zealander Valerie Adams will also be in action with a bid to notch up a 51st consecutive win.

Back on the track, newly-crowned Jamaican 100m champion Nickel Ashmeade will race the 200m, notably up against compatriot Yohan Blake and Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre.

Blake, who is the second fastest man ever over 200m (19.26sec in 2011), missed much of last season injured but said he had "trained hard" to get back in shape.

"I feel good. I'm going to enjoy running my 200m," said Blake, whose meeting target is Bolt's 19.58sec set in 2012.

Another Jamaican legend, Veronica Campbell-Brown, will race the women's 100m.

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