Usain Bolt was a model of dignity and class as he accepted a crushing defeat in the 100m final at the world championships, but the retiring sprint legend strongly bristled at one question from a journalist.

The Jamaican star, who finished third behind Americans Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman in his farewell race, interrupted a press conference featuring all three medallists to answer a question directed at Gatlin.

The American winner, who has twice been suspended after testing positive for banned substances, was asked if the lower times at these world championships could be attributed to greater doping control.

The journalist pointed to the number of sub-10 second times at this event (seven), compared to 21 at the 2015 world championships in Beijing.

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"Woah woah, what?!" Bolt interjected. "What's she saying? I heard you but I'm saying, 'what?!'

"First of all, I'm sure everybody up here takes that very disrespectfully. We've proved we've worked hard; as I said Justin has done his time over the years and he's proven himself over and over again. I've proven myself over and over again. Young kid, just coming in, Coleman, has done great and shown the world he's going to be a great athlete. There's something called injury - and sometimes everything don't go smoothly as you want to. There's negative wind, there's so many different (factors).

"So for you to just directly state something to all three of us like that (slow times may be in relation to tighter doping controls), I take that as disrespectful ... because we've done so many great things throughout the years. Yes, it's slow. But we came out there and put on a good show for everybody so, yeah ... wow."

Gatlin received his 100m gold medal on Monday morning (AEST) after famously or infamously - depending on your viewpoint - spoiling Bolt's farewell party.
Gatlin was jeered again but also received polite applause from the packed Olympic Stadium at the ceremony - after in the two previous race days Bolt was hailed and adored and Gatlin booed mercilessly.

Bolt for his part got another ovation.

The terms "good versus evil" and "morality play" had surfaced again as soon as Gatlin crossed the line. He is unpopular as he has served two doping related suspensions, the first in 2001 in connection with an attention deficit disorder medication and the second for a positive testosterone test in 2006.

The 35-year-old was banned for life which was reduced to eight years and then four.
When he returned in 2010 Bolt had conquered the sport and from 2015 onwards their duel took the "good versus evil" tone although the two runners always expressed their respect for each other.

Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, conducted the medal ceremony, giving Gatlin a short handshake while spending more time with Bolt - after telling BBC radio that he had mixed feelings.

"It's not the perfect script," Coe said. "I'm not eulogistic that someone who has served two bans has walked off with one of our glittering prizes. But he is eligible to be here."

The BBC earlier noted in an editorial Sunday that Gatlin lacked "obvious remorse" but also observed that "not all the rancour has made logical sense. Others at these world championships have returned from suspensions. Russia is banned indefinitely for its 21st century take on state-sponsored doping. Only Gatlin was booed every time he took to the blocks."

Respected American sports journalist Alan Abrahamson insisted in his blog 3 Wire Sports: "If there is justice in this world, let it rain Justin Gatlin's way. He is deserving, more than deserving, of your appreciation and, more, your respect."