Usain Bolt told Justin Gatlin he did not deserve to be booed after taking the gold in the Jamaican's final 100 metres outing at the IAAF World Championships.
Gatlin has served two doping bans across his career and received treatment that starkly contrasted to that of Bolt at London Stadium, the American roundly jeered while Bolt was the focus of adulation.
The 35-year-old came in for more negative attention as he became the first person to beat Bolt in a 100m final at a major championships and the oldest gold medallist at the Worlds with a time of 9.92 seconds.
Bolt had to settle for third behind the exciting Christian Coleman, and Gatlin revealed the words of support the outgoing icon offered him at the conclusion of the race.
"We're rivals on the track but in the warm-down area we still joke and have a good time," Gatlin told BBC Sport.
"The first thing he said to me is, 'congratulations, you worked hard for this'. He said, 'you don't deserve the boos' and I thanked him for inspiring me throughout my career."
However, Gatlin claimed the continually frosty reception in London had not fazed him.
"I tuned the crowd out through all the rounds," he said. "I stayed the course, I kept my energy through the semis and came to the finals and did what I had to do.
"The people who love me are here cheering for me, at home cheering for me and that's what I've been thinking about."
The American said the feeling was "surreal" but relished in taking the top step of the podium and recalled his triumph at the Olympic Games in 2004.
"It's just a surreal moment. I thought of all the things I would do if I did win - I didn't do any of that," continued Gatlin.
"It was almost like 2004 all over again. I won by a little margin and to be able to come across the line and have that excitement it's still amazing because its Usain Bolt's last race.
"I've had so many victories, so many losses, and to be able to run against him throughout the years, it's an amazing night."