Usain Bolt claimed today that he was always destined to be one of the greatest athletes of all time and that he has been doing phenomenal things since he was a teenager – as he was forced to defend himself following a series of positive drugs tests involving top sprinters.
Jamaica’s world 100- and 200-meters record holder, never short of self-confidence, was speaking ahead of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium starting tomorrow, marking a year since the Opening Ceremony of London 2012.
Responding to questions surrounding the recent drugs scandal involving his compatriot Asafa Powell and American Tyson Gay, in which both athletes were found to have banned substances in their system, the six-time Olympic champion left everyone in no doubt that any suspicions regarding his own career can be dispelled by looking at his record of achievements.
“If you were following me since 2002, you will know that I have been doing phenomenal things since I was 15,” he said. “I was the youngest person to win the World Junior’s at 15 [Bolt won 200m gold in Kingston in 2002] and I ran the world junior record of 19.93 at the age of 18, and the world youth record at 17. I have broken every record there is to break in every event I have ever done, so I have proven myself since I was 15, and now I am just living out my dream really. For me I have shown everything throughout the years that I was always going to be great.”
Bolt, who will be running in the 100-meter event tomorrow in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is part of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) Diamond League series, said that it was down to the world governing body to decide on what punishments should be handed out to athletes who fall foul of the doping system.
The Powell and Gay cases have seen an increase in the calls for much more stringent tariffs to be imposed, including automatic life-bans for athletes, coaches and physiotherapists from the sport.
“I was made to inspire people and to run,” said the 27-year-old Bolt, who won three gold medals at London 2012, successfully defending the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay titles he had won at Beijing four years earlier.
“I was given a gift and that’s what I do.
“I’m confident in myself and the people I work with and I know I’m clean so I am just going to continue running and using my talent to try and improve the sport.
“I don’t make the rules and I can’t determine how harsh they should be.
“In life things happen, people make mistakes, mishaps happen, so I can’t really decide what the rules should be.
“That’s why they have the IAAF and all these people that sit and deliberate on what the rules should be and what should happen.
“As an athlete, I have to be very careful.
“I have a great team around me, I work hard and they make sure I stay on the straight and narrow.
“For me I just stay focused.
“There are a lot of things that are going on around me, the World Championships [in Moscow] are coming up and that’s my focus, so I will let other people around me worry about what’s going on.”
Bolt was part of the Jamaican relay squads that won gold at Beijing 2008 and at the World Championships in Berlin a year later, and he revealed that he had exchanged messages with Powell, who was on both teams, following the news of his positive drugs test last month.
Powell, who twice held the world 100m record, has claimed that Canadian physiotherapist Chris Xeureb is responsible for his failed drugs test after allegedly providing him and team-mate Sherone Simpson a range of nutritional supplements that contained the banned stimulant oxilofrine.
“I just had one BB [Blackbery] conversation with him and I told him I was sorry to hear what was going on,” said Bolt. “It’s kind of rough and it’s hard, so I told him to just stay strong and stay focussed and hopefully everything will work out.”
However, the fastest man of all time suggested that it was pretty simple for athletes to ensure that they are not taking anything that may be flagged up as a banned substance before pointing out that “his team” go through the list of banned substances and make sure that he is not taking anything that is illegal.
“Look, the list is there,” said Bolt, who says that it is normal practice for every athlete to take vitamins and supplements. “There is a banned list on the IAAF website and all you have to do is before you start taking vitamins, you just check the list. There’s no problem that is what we do.”
Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.