In Caribbean sports news, The onus is on sprint king Usain Bolt to bring back athletics to its former glory after the recent doping scandals hit the sport.
Heading into the world championships, the Jamaican stands as tall as ever. It just seems the sport around him has diminished.
Matching the sheer exuberance and sell-out mass appeal of the London Olympics was always going to be a stretch, but a shocking array of no-shows and doping scandals in several of the sport’s premier events has hit athletics hard.
Only another superb Bolt show can push all these controversies under the carpet. So it puts added responsibility on the shoulders of Bolt.
The sprint star and the rest of his national team members have reportedly been tested for banned drugs just days before the meet.
According to the Mirror, The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) agents came to the Jamaican team’s Russian training camp on Tuesday to conduct the checks, blood-testing all 44 members of the squad in a five-hour operation.
The WADA’s actions came in the wake of six Jamaican athletes testing positive for banned substances this year, including multiple Olympic and World gold medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown, World Championship bronze medallist Asafa Powell and Olympic silver medallist Sherone Simpson.
Of all the athletes traveling to the Russian capital for the championship, Bolt has the fastest times in both the 100 and 200 meters. And given Jamaica’s standout tradition in the 4×100 relay, he is a favorite to win another golden triple.
Both won three golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, three at the London Games and three more at the 2009 worlds in Berlin. And with seven world championship medals already, a triple of any color would also move him alongside American great Carl Lewis as the most medaled man in the event’s history with 10 overall.
Only a year ago, Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake was challenging Bolt for Olympic supremacy in London, but came up with silver. This year was supposed to give him another shot, but the sprinter is out with a hamstring injury.
In Blake’s absence, a revitalized Tyson Gay was to challenge hard. But his career came crashing down when he relinquished his US sprint spots for Moscow after failing an out-of-competition doping test.
Almost at the same time, it was announced that former world-record holder Asafa Powell tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrone at the Jamaican national championships in June.
The scandals leave Justin Gatlin as Bolt’s toughest competitor in the championship’s premier event. The 2004 Olympic champion already beat the Jamaican at the Diamond League meeting in Rome this spring, Bolt’s only competitive flaw this season.
In his favorite race, the 200, Bolt is going for his third straight world title, and there his competition will be as much the clock as teammate Warren Weir.
And when Bolt sets himself a challenge, he all too often turns it into reality.