Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were chosen World Athletes of the Year on Saturday amid increasing scrutiny into the efficiency of their country’s anti-doping programme.
Bolt received the IAAF award for the fifth time. He won the 100, 200 and 4x100m relay at the World Championships in Moscow last month. He won the same three races at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and 2009 worlds.
“It’s always an honour to be recognized by the IAAF and the fans as the athlete of the year,” Bolt said. “I just focus on doing great things, and staying focused is hard to do.”
Bolt finished ahead of world 5,000 and 10,000 champ Mo Farah of Britain and world high jump champ Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine.
Fraser-Pryce earned the award for the first time by regaining the 100 title and anchoring the victorious 4×100 women’s relay. She also had the year’s best 200 time.
The other women’s nominees were world champion shot-putter Valerie Adams of New Zealand and world hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic.
“I’m shocked and excited. It’s something that has been a dream of mine,” said Fraser-Pryce, who is the second Jamaican woman to win after Merlene Ottey in 1990. “Hard work is something that comes without saying for us to achieve the things we want.”
Both winners received $100,000.
Fraser-Pryce had once threatened to boycott competing in her effort to get more attention for the athletes on the island.
Fraser-Pryce believes that Jamaican athletes should continue to pressure the authorities to draw attention to their concerns. “If there are certain things that are not up to standard, then that’s the thing we have to do because if we don’t run, they will start to do things,” said Fraser-Pryce.
“If it comes down to actually not competing to make sure that things are up to scratch when it comes to facilities and different things in Jamaica, then I would (not run).”
The Olympic and world champion also expressed her dissatisfaction with the lack of support from local officials during recent criticism of Jamaica’s anti-doping fiasco.
“You read articles and listen to persons make accusations and say all kinds of stuff about Jamaica and its athletes and there is no one there to get up, take a microphone and say, ‘What you are saying is a lie’,” the Olympic and world champion added.
“You have the information and the stats, defend us — that’s what you are there for. A lot of things that are said in the media are not true, but there is no one in our federation challenging it,” she said.