Friday, February 3, 2017 at 7:37 AM

Doping Charge Strikes Usain Like a Lightning Bolt

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

It’s a matter of public record that doping among Jamaican Track and Field athletes is nearly as pervasive as it is among their Russian counterparts. For example, 30 Jamaicans have tested positive for banned substances in recent years, including every notable Olympic champion … except Usain Bolt: this, according to a report on the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission in the October 18, 2013, edition of The Gleaner (diGJamaica.com).

Yet I have taken a lot of flak for making perfectly reasonable inferences from this record …

It might be helpful to recall here that the World Anti-Doping Agency cited state-sponsored doping for banning all Russian Track and Field athletes from the 2016 Rio Olympics. I duly commented in “Track Officials Ban Russians From Rio Olympics for Doping,” June 18, 2016.

But I was already on record with this qualifier from “In Putin’s Russia Even Athletics Is a Criminal (Doping) Enterprise,” November 9, 2015:

There’s no evidence indicating that governments in other top-performing countries (e.g., Jamaica for Summer Games or the United States for Winter Games) have aided and abetted doping the way the Russian government did. But there’s more than sufficient prima facie evidence to suspect that athletes from those countries engage in doping just as much as athletes from Russia do.

More to the point, though, here is an excerpt from “[Drugs] as Rampant in Track as in Cycling,” July 16, 2013.

_________________

After Marion Jones, if you’re still shocked to learn that any Track star is a cheat, you’d probably also be shocked to learn that Santa Claus is a fake. …

Here’s how I shared my informed doubts about the way the tiny island nation of Jamaica was becoming as dominant in sprints as the entire African Continent has been in distances:

I wonder if it’s a testament to their national training methods or the performance-enhancing ‘herbs’ they use to flavor their sports drinks that make these Jamaicans so incredibly fast.

(“2008 Beijing Olympic Games – the Phelpsian Touch … Pure Gold,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 16, 2008)

Since then, Veronica Campbell-Brown, the reigning 200m World Champion, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the two-time and reigning 100m Olympic Champion, both tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. And let’s not forget that Yohan Blake, the reigning 100m World Champion and, most significantly, Bolt’s training partner, also tested positive (in 2009) for a banned substance.

Now comes this report about Asafa Powell, who helped Jamaica win gold in the 4x100m relay at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, Sherone Simpson, who won silver at the 2008 Olympics, and ‘three other unnamed Jamaican sprinters’ all testing positive.

This is why it can only be a matter of time before the lightning Bolt himself gets struck for taking performance-enhancing drugs. …

I hope the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will now claw back all of the medals these Jamaicans won, just as it clawed back all those Marion Jones won.  And this claw back should include forcing all members of their relay teams to forfeit their medals too.

_________________

Sure enough, now comes this:

Usain Bolt has lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals because of a doping case involving Jamaican teammate Nesta Carter [to Bolt’s right].

The IOC said Wednesday that Carter tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned stimulant, in re-analysis of samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Olympic rules state that the entire relay team can be disqualified and stripped of medals if one runner fails a doping test.

(Associated Press, January 25, 2017)

So lightning has struck Bolt once. But don’t be surprised if it strikes him twice, thrice … or eight more times.

Apropos of this, bear in mind that Lance Armstrong was every bit as decorated and acclaimed. Moreover, like Bolt, he often made a point of proclaiming himself the most tested athlete in the wide world of sports.

Not to mention that Track’s governing body has as much vested interest in Bolt never testing positive as Cycling’s had in Armstrong never doing so. Which is why, but for zealous investigative reporting by France’s L’Equipe, the world would still be hailing Armstrong as a seven-time winner of the Tour de France.

Instead, that reporting gave me cover to revel in Armstrong’s fall from grace, which I did in “Doper Lance Armstrong Stripped,” August 24, 2012, and “Lance Confesses: Oprah’s Big Get?” January 16, 2013.

It is also notable that Bolt has echoed the way Armstrong decried athletes who dope; that is, before doping authorities outed Armstrong as the biggest doper of them all. Here, for example, is the oddly paternalistic way Bolt described the profound disappointment he felt after doping authorities outed his archrival, US sprinter Tyson Gay:

It was like, you have a son and you send him to college every year, and all of a sudden he does something bad and he drops out of school, and you find out that all the As he was getting he was cheating. That’s how I felt. Maybe over time I’ll move past it, but it really bothered me – really, really bothered me.

(London Telegraph, July 15, 2016)

That said, I never miss an opportunity to champion the cause to legalize drugs. I’ve been doing so most of my adult life, including in published commentaries – beginning with “A Plea for Landis, Gatlin, et al: Legalize Drugs … Especially in Sports,” August 3, 2006. It includes this:

Policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian; it’s utterly futile. After all … athletes have always, and will always, do or take anything that might give them a competitive advantage. And if what they do or take poses no harm to anyone except themselves, who cares?!

This enlightened attitude towards performance-enhancing drugs would have precluded the ‘scandals’ that now threaten the professional careers of Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis and Olympic (100m) Champion Justin Gatlin; to say nothing of sparing them international ridicule as pathetic liars and cheaters.

Related commentaries:
Jamaican anti-doping commission
In Putin’s Russia
Russians banned
Drugs rampant
Why Marion, Why
Beijing Olympics
Lance confesses
Armstrong stripped
Decriminalize drugs

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