Justin Gatlin hopes athletics can be proud of him as world champion and wants his shock 100m victory to inspire others to come back from mistakes.
The 35-year-old American – twice banned for doping – stunned London Stadium by beating retiring eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt into third.
Gatlin – booed throughout the event – wants to be viewed as “a fighter”.
“I’ve come back to the sport, worked hard, faced all the rules and penalties,” he told BBC Sport.
“I’ve inspired other athletes to be better – young athletes. I’ve done so much in the communities at home. I wanted them to know that mistakes happen but you can come back, work hard and be accepted.”
Gatlin has said his first positive test for amphetamines in 2001 was down to drugs he had taken since childhood to treat attention deficit disorder.
After his second positive test, for testosterone in 2006, he avoided a life ban after cooperating with the authorities, accepting an eight-year suspension that was then reduced to four on appeal.
Gatlin told BBC Sport his hostile reception in London was not like anything he had faced since returning to the sport in 2010 and believes the change may be because he has become “more of a rival” for Bolt.
After his victory in 9.92 seconds, he paid homage to the Jamaican who finished in 9.95 to take bronze behind Gatlin’s 21-year-old compatriot Christian Coleman, who ran 9.94.
“Christian is a stellar athlete and is going to be a star for years to come,” Gatlin added. “But tonight is Usain Bolt’s night. He’s been a big character through the sport through the years. He’s pushed me and inspired me through the years. I’m happy for him to be able to do what he’s done.”
‘Why should we celebrate Gatlin?’
Gatlin put his finger to his lips and later placed his hands by his ears in response to the London crowd as his win changed the atmosphere in the stadium.
Three-time Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton told BBC Radio 5 live the win “made a mockery of the sport” for her personally.
“Some say he’s done his time and paid for his crime and should be able to compete, however I don’t feel that way,” the 40-year-old former heptathlete said.
“Why should we celebrate Gatlin’s win? No-one wants to see someone in their mid-thirties who has had two drugs bans win the 100m.
“We don’t know what lasting effects the drugs he has had in his system have had. It makes a mockery of the sport for me.”
Darren Campbell, who took gold in the 4x100m at the 2004 Olympics, added: “Track and field has had a problem for a long time. You can’t sweep things under the carpet. The people who run the sport have to sort things out because we are not supposed to have moments like this.
“But you have to give Gatlin credit because he learned the lessons of 2015 in Beijing where he lost the race in the last 10 metres.”
BBC commentator Steve Cram added: “Tomorrow I suspect when Bolt is presented with his bronze there’ll be a massive cheer but Gatlin may well be booed. That’s just people explaining to athletes, the IAAF, journalists and broadcasters how they feel about this matter.”
Gatlin is an excellent person – Bolt
Gatlin’s win arrived 12 years after his last World Championship success but his time was the slowest winning mark in the final of the event since Kim Collins took gold with 10.07 in 2003.
Bolt – who had been beaten by Gatlin on only one previous occasion – embraced his rival afterwards and later praised him as a “great competitor” and “good person”.
“For me, over the years, he has done his time. If he’s here then it’s OK. I will always respect him as a competitor,” he said.
“He deserves to be here because he’s done his time and he’s worked hard to get back to being one of the best athletes.
“He is a great competitor. I’ve always said that about Justin Gatlin. You have to be at your best and I wasn’t and that’s what I respect about him because he competes and I really appreciate competing with him.
“He’s an excellent person, as far as I’m concerned.”
Bolt will now seek a 20th major gold medal and a 12th at the World Championships when he competes in the 4x100m relay next week, the final event of his illustrious career.
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