Usain Bolt has brushed off claims he is ‘afraid’ of American sprinter Justin Gatlin.
The Jamaican world record holder in both the 100m and 200m is set for his first Diamond League race of 2015, when he returns to the Adidas Grand Prix in New York on Saturday.
Bolt first set his first world record over 100m in 9.72secs at the Icahn Stadium seven years ago. That record now stands at 9.58secs, while also laying claim to the best ever time over 200m at 19.19secs.
Gatlin, who was banned for four years for a second drug offense in 2006, boasts the fastest time so far this season in the 100 and 200 metres with 9.74 seconds and 19.68sec.
The pair are not scheduled to clash until the IAAF World Championships in Beijing later this year, but Bolt have shrugged off talks of being afraid.
He said: “Afraid? When people say that, I laugh.
“I’ve been in the sport for years and I’ve never dodged anybody. When it matter, I’ve always showed up and show that I’m the best.
“Gatlin has been doing a lot of talking, saying a lot of things. He’s proved he’s running fast times and he’s ready. So it should be exciting going to the World Championships.
“I look forward to competing when people talk. Because if you don’t back it up you look really stupid.”
Bolt- a six time Olympic Gold medalist and eight World Championships titles winner- has competed in the United States only once since his record breaking feat in 2008, when he anchored a Jamaican 4x100m team at the 2010 Pennsylvania Relay.
Gatling claimed his former therapist rubbed cream containing testosterone into his legs, following his failed drug test.