Always controversial, Carl Lewis now questions the legitimacy of sprinter Usain Bolt's 9.69 100M world record Olympic sprint. From the London Times:
“When people ask me about Bolt I say he could be the greatest athlete of all time. But for someone to run 10.03 one year and 9.69 the next, if you don’t question that in a sport that has the reputation it has right now, you’re a fool. Period.”
Like many others, Lewis pointed to Jamaica’s perceived lack of testing as the foundation for his suspicion. “I’m proud of America right now because we have the best random and most comprehensive drug-testing programme. Countries like Jamaica do not have a random programme, so they can go months without being tested. No one is accusing Bolt, but don’t live by a different rule and expect the same kind of respect. How dare anybody feel that there shouldn’t be scrutiny, especially in our sport?”
As we pointed out several weeks ago, the disparity in testing among countries can be startling. As the old East German doping machine demonstrated, a clever coach with a good lab can time the use of steroids or other drugs to aid performance, yet avoid detection. Indeed, recent stories implicate contemporary Jamaican athletes with doping.
Lewis, who was allowed to compete in the 1988 Games in Seoul having been cleared by the IAAF after being accused of testing positive for banned stimulants, said that he was not singling out Bolt and also questioned the performance of Jamaica’s female sprinters. The IOC targeted the Jamaica sprinters for blood-testing when they were in Beijing and none of them tested positive.
Lewis also expressed his anger that Antonio Pettigrew, the American who testified this year to doping when part of the United States Olympic title-winning 4 x 400 metres relay team in 2000, had kept his job as a coach.
However, it is Lewis’s remarks about Bolt that will cause a storm in Jamaica. Herb Elliott, the Jamaica team doctor and a member of the IAAF antidoping commission, accused the US of peddling “condescending crap” at the Olympics. “They still think we don’t know anything down in Jamaica,” he said.
The issue is not what Americans think or do not think about Jamaica, the issue is enforcing integrity in a world that too often cheats. The tracks records the past 40 years are clearly littered with drug cheating. It's high time to clean track and field up.
Test the athletes, post the data online, and verify the trust.