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Justin Gatlin, whose nomination as one of the 10 male contenders for this year's World Athlete of the Year award has aroused strong criticism given his doping record, has not made it through to the final shortlist.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced today that the three men still in contention for the award, due to be made at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco on November 21, are Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, Dennis Kipruto Kimetto of Kenya and Renaud Lavillenie of France.

Gatlin, who returned to the sport in 2010 after a four-year doping ban - following a two-year ban imposed in 2001 but reduced on appeal - was unbeaten over 100 and 200 metres this season, during which he won the IAAF's Diamond Race trophy for the shorter sprint.

He also finished the season with the fastest 100 and 200m times, respectively 9.77sec and 19.68.

The IAAF insisted it had no choice but to allow Gatlin's nomination, which was made by an international panel of athletics experts including representatives from all six continental IAAF areas.

A spokesman said: "Gatlin, as an eligible athlete who has had a great season is, logically, also eligible for consideration for the Athlete of the Year contest in the absence of any bylaw to prevent that happening."

But German discus thrower Robert Harting withdrew his name from the Athlete of the Year shortlist in protest of Gatlin's nomination, while IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe admitted he had "big problems" with the 2004 Olympic 100m champion being on the list.

There has also been criticism of the decision on social media.

This week Gatlin's manager, Renaldo Nehemiah, announced that the sprinter had been obliged to close his social media accounts because an "anonymous hacker" had posted an abusive reply to a Norwegian student who had posted a picture of himself "giving the finger" to a televisio image of Gatlin, with the accompanying comment "Druggers are not welcome!"

Now, however, potential embarrassment has been spared through the most recent round of judging which occurred through an email poll involving the World Athletics Family - comprising IAAF and International Athletics Foundation Council members, IAAF national member federations, IAAF Committee and Commission members, IAAF meeting directors, IAAF athlete ambassadors, athletes' representatives, top athletes, members of the international press, IAAF staff members and the IAAF's official partners.

Since this Award was first given in 1988, when the male and female recipients were Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner, no athlete who had served a ban for a serious doping offence at the time of voting has won the title.

Gatlin's US compatriot LaShawn Merritt, the world and 2008 Olympic 400m champion who returned to the sport in 2011 after serving a doping ban reduced from two years to 21 months, was also among the 10 male nominations.

Of the three contenders for the male award, Barshim won the IAAF World Indoor high jump title and became the second best jumper ever behind world record holder Javier Sotomayor when he achieved 2.43m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels.

Lavillenie retained his European pole vault title, having begun his year by eclipsing Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old world record of 6.15m with an effort of 6.16 in the Ukrainian's home city of Donetsk.

Kimetto set a marathon world record of 2 hours 2min 57sec in Berlin last month.

The three women finalists are Valerie Adams of New Zealand, Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.

Adams was the Diamond Race winner at shot, remaining unbeaten in the season and taking the IAAF World Indoor and Commonwealth titles.

Dibaba began the year by breaking world indoor records at 1500 and 3,000m, and setting a world best at two miles, before taking the IAAF World Indoor 3,000m title and winning at the Continental Cup.

Schippers switched from heptathlon with dramatic effect as she won the European 100 and 200m titles and the Continental Cup 200m, setting five national records in the season.