There is an arm's race brewing between the fastest legs in track and field.
Saturday at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island at the adidas Grand Prix meet, Gay had the 100-meter spotlight to himself, as Bolt elected to run the 200-meters in a Grand Prix meet in Oslo on Thursday.
But it was Jamaican Steve Mullings, Gay's training partner, who stole the spotlight and interrupted what was supposed to be The Tyson Gay Show. Both ran 10.26 seconds against a strong headwind as Mullings nipped Gay at the tape.
"We came here to have fun," Mullings said. "It's more me coming out to race than beating Tyson."
Added Gay: "I was a little bit sluggish at the start. There was no tightening up or anything."
But the race was marred by three false starts, which under the "one false start" rule enacted by the IAAF in 2009, forced Richard Thompson, Travis Padgett and Rae Monzavous Edwards out of the race before it began.
"It could have been a world championship final," Mullings said. "People are always going to try and get out. With eight people in the race who have run under 10 seconds, people are always going to want and get a good start.
"For me, I was just being patient and trying not to false start."
Gay has been vocal with his displeasure with the rule, and with Saturday's shrunken race, that did not change.
"A lot of things can happen in these type of conditions," Gay said. "So I hope something can be done about it."
Despite Gay's loss, he and Bolt are still regarded as the world's top 100-meter runners. The two last raced in the 100 at an August 2010 meet in Stockholm, won by Gay. Bolt, battling injuries at the time, was in less-than-top condition.
The two are not expected to meet again until the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in August. Gay says he will run the 100, while Bolt will most likely run both the 100 and 200.
Gay still has the fastest time in the world this year (9.79), set June 4 at a meet in Clermont, Fla.
For Mullings, his status as an elite sprinter will always come with questions. He tested positive for testosterone before the 2004 Olympics and was banned for two years from international competition.
Mullings still maintains his innocence, that his blood samples, including his positive B sample, were false positives. But he understands the stigma that comes with a doping suspension.
"There's nothing I can do," Mullings said. "They are always going to label me as the same person that tested positive."
"I still have a couple of fans out there, and they look up to me. All I have to do is prove my innocence and keep running fast."