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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Mike Hurst - Bolt is the last shining light

Mike Hurst - Bolt is the last shining light

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1 Mike Hurst - Bolt is the last shining light on Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:02 pm



Usain Bolt is athletics' last shining light after Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell test positive to drugs

Mike Hurst
The Daily Telegraph
July 16, 2013

LIGHTNING struck at least six times yesterday as prominent athletes in the US and Jamaica were felled by drug tests.

It seems Usain Bolt's personal charisma and credibility is all that stands between the premier Olympic sport of athletics and the farce which cycling became under Lance Armstrong's reign.

This is the Lance Armstrong moment for the sport of track and field following the failed drug tests revealed yesterday for "clean sport" poster boy and US 100m record holder Tyson Gay as well as Jamaica's universally popular church-going former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell.

Armstrong's seven-time domination of the Tour de France tested plausibility more than anyone in sport, with perhaps the exception of Bolt, the 195cm-tall Jamaican whose child-like sense of humour belied a ferocious competitive temperament which has enabled him to become the first man in history to retain the Olympic sprint double (2008-2012).

Like Armstrong, Bolt has stunned the world with his extraordinary demonstrations of physical superiority, setting a world record while dancing to the 100m finish-line in the Beijing Olympic 100m final, then reducing both the 100m and 200m world records to 9.58sec and 19.19sec respectively a year later at the Berlin world championships.

Bolt has asked us all to suspend our disbelief and we have been happy to do so until now as he prepares to compete at next month's world athletics championships in Moscow.

But if he should fall from grace it would be such a body blow to athletics that the sport itself would take years to regain credibility, despite the fact it should be praised for running down the cheats and banning them.

There have been no excuses offered by Gay or Powell, who has run under 10sec for 100m more than 80 times. Both have said they trusted the wrong people - presumably in relation to the provision of performance enhancing supplements.

Up to five other Jamaicans tested positive, including Olympic and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games sprint gold medallist Sherone Simpson, although the biggest catch was Jamaica's three-time Olympic champion and reigning world 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, who failed a test last month for a banned diuretic (furosemide) which is a potential masking agent for steroids.

It is not just sprinters who have failed tests. There are at least a dozen positive tests among Turkish athletes and more among Russians.

The purge of drug cheats in athletics continues around the globe but with every competition leading up to, and then including, the Moscow world titles, athletics fans' hearts will skip a beat under the stress of waiting for the next round of drug busts in the hope the sport's flag bearer, Bolt, is not among them.

He enchanted all with his engaging smile and happy-go-lucky banter on recent visits to Australia last year and a couple of years before that. But so did Britain's Barcelona Olympic 100m gold medallist Linford Christie in the 1990s and America's fallen sweetheart Marion Jones.

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