Usain Bolt and doping
Posted March 2, 2009on:
Even the most pessimistic of sports fans could not help but be inspired by Usain Bolt at Beijing 2008. The rangy Jamaican sprinter powered his way to an electrifying double in both the 100m and 200m events as well as smashing both world records. In setting his time of 9.69 seconds in the 100m Bolt even seemed to ease off and eat up the final yards at a canter. The ridiculous margin of victory for the sprinter only accentuated just how far ahead of the rest of the world Usain Bolt is. However, before this victory stunned the world in Beijing, sprinting was enduring one of its darkest periods in Olympic history. The list of discredited champions is disconcertingly lengthy in a sport which should represent some of the most finely-tuned specimens on the planet. The most notable of which is undoubtedly Dwayne Chambers. A man who was for years a beacon of light for British sprinting and a genuine contender for Olympic champion has now joined the long list of banned athletes after failing a drugs test. Chambers suffered more anguish than most on the way to his eventual decline but at least his rise to the top of sprinting was well-documented. Although, I am as electrified with Bolts meteoric rise and the next person, no one seems to know where it came from. Bolt has travelled from mediocrity to superstardom frighteningly quickly and the inherent doubter in me cannot help but ask how?
Performance-enhancing drugs have long cast a shadow over modern-day sport, particularly sprinting and have obliterated the career of many a promising athlete. The temptation to be at the pinnacle of a sport is often irresistible and steroids provide an illicit highway to achieving such a position. With this in mind, it is challenging to see Usain Bolt’s meteoric rise as a result of graft, natural talent and a physique simply made for sprinting. There is no doubting the attractiveness of such a route to the summit but it just does not seem to happen today. Disgraced champion Justin Gatlin is a case in point. The young American powered his way to the 100m Olympic title in 2004 and then again at the World Championships in 2005 and was viewed as the future of sprinting. As someone who’s hard work, commitment and raw speed had resulted in fairytale success. Two years after his triumph in Athens, Gatlin was banned from athletics for 4 years for doping and the watching world lost faith in sprinting once and for all. Usain Bolt’s victory however, has threatened to start a sprinting renaissance with people around the globe enthralled by the precocious, self-confident speedster. If this new king of the track is genuine then a renaissance is indeed imminent and Bolt represents a role model for all young athletes. On the other hand, suspicion persists in any sudden sporting success and the worry persists that Bolt will follow the painful example of many a sprinting star.
Olympic legend Carl Lewis was the first high profile questioner of Bolt’s dramatic victory. Lewis commented: “To run 10.03 seconds one year and win the Olympic final with 9.69 the next, if you don’t question that in a sport with the reputation it has right now, then you’re a fool.” Although the remark has been widely condemned, by no less than Jamaican sprinting star Asafa Powell, it will undoubtedly mimic the views of many a sports fan. It is not small-minded pessimism but justifiable doubt, especially in a sport which has seen athlete after athlete in recent years crumble into insignificance. Jamaica has consistently boasted a clean record in terms of doping and one would be hard pushed to remember a scandal involving steroids and a Jamaican athlete. However, admirable as this record is, it is also true that Jamaica does not have an independent, out-of-competition testing program for its athletes, nor has it joined the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization. This has been the cause of murmurs of discontent among athletic bodies. Not because anyone holds the steadfast belief that Usain Bolt or any Jamaican champions are guilty of drug cheating but simply because if you do not test then how do you know for certain that a victory was pure. Thus although the overwhelming likelihood is that Usain Bolt’s astonishing double was unadulterated, the web of doubters, fuelled by years of Olympic scandal and expulsion, will never truly be silenced unless Jamaica do more to test their athletes at every level.
Conversely, there is the view held by euphoric sports fans around the globe that Usain Bolt is a true people’s champion. Someone who has emerged from years of training and taken the sprinting world by storm with his inimitable style and charismatic manner. The “Lightning Bolt” knew what he wanted to achieve and pushed himself to the limit of his physical powers in order to achieve it. He is the man who everyone now wants to be, the first poster up on a bedroom wall – Bolt crossing the finish line with his arms aloft and the rest of the field disappearing into the Beijing smog. This is an image that is rightfully held and should still be held years down the line. A true champion, immune from drugs scandals and moanings of suspicion. Usain Bolt the architect of a sprinting renaissance and an inspiration for every corner of the globe. Here’s to hoping that such a view remains forever in sporting history and that doubts are cleared. However, until that final proof arrives, those who still reluctantly hold nagging doubts can be forgiven and it is up to the powers that be and the man himself to assure us of his clean brilliance.
Source : Online news