By Mike Rowbottom

Justin Gatlin, pictured after winning in Beijing in May, is one of 10 nominations for this year's IAAF World Athlete of the Year Award ©Getty ImagesHigh jump rivals Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko are among the 10 men nominated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for this year's World Athlete of the Year Award - and so, controversially, is Justin Gatlin.

The 2004 Olympic champion, 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.

Gatlin's performances this season - he ran the fastest 100m and 200m times in 2014, respectively 9.77sec and 19.68 - have been outstanding, but there has been an undertow of disapproval from some observers of the sport about his past record.

Gatlin's fellow Untied States compatriot LaShawn Merritt, the world and 2008 Olympic 400m hurdles champion who returned to the sport in 2011 after serving a doping ban reduced from two years to 21 months, is also on the list of  male nominations.

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.

The current female World Athlete of the Year, Jamaica's world and Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, was banned for six months in 2010 after returning a sample which contained the painkiller Oxycodone.

Neither Fraser-Pryce nor the man who has won five of the last six Awards, Usain Bolt, are on this year's list following seasons which have been undermined by injury.

Completing the men's nominations are Botswana's Nijel Amos, the 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist who has won Commonwealth, African and Continental Cup titles, France's Yohann Diniz, who broke the world 50km walk record at the European Championships, Kenya's new marathon world record holder Dennis Kimetto, France's world pole vault record holder Renaud Lavillenie, Germany's world and European discus champion Robert Harting and Kenya's leading 3,000m steeplechaser Jairus Kipchoge Birech.

barshimny2014giQatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, who has become the second best high jumper of all time this year, is in the running for the IAAF's World Athlete of the Year Award ©Getty Images

New Zealand's unbeaten shot putter Valerie Adams is joined on the female list by Genzebe Dibaba, who set three world indoor records in just 15 days in February over 1500m, two miles and 3,000m and also won the world indoor and Continental Cup 3,000m titles.

Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk, who recently broke the hammer world record, is also a candidate, as are Dawn Harper-Nelson, Caterine Ibarguen, Francena McCorory, Sandra Perkovic, Dafne Schippers, Kaliese Spencer and Barbora Spotakova.

The candidates have been selected by an international panel of athletics experts which include representatives from all six continental areas of the IAAF.

An email poll involving the World Athletics Family begins today and will close on October 16 to narrow the lists down to three male and three female finalists, from whom the two winners will be selected by the Council of the International Athletics Foundation, with awards being made live on stage during the 2014 World Athletics Gala in Monaco on November 21.

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November 2013: Bolt and Fraser-Pryce win World Athlete of the Year awards
May 2012: "I am back" declares American drugs cheat Gatlin