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Monday 29, Sep 2008

  Usain Bolt says he’s clean; dismisses Carl Lewis’ doping allegations

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usain-bolt-steroidsIn a recent telephone interview with Reuters, Usain Bolt insists he is squeaky clean and that he has gained track stardom due to hard training.

Bolt also answers back to American sprint superstar Carl Lewis’ scrutiny that he may be on some performance boosters when he smashed world records at the recently concluded Beijing Olympics.

Lewis has dropped some controversial comments during his interview with Sports Illustrated. His comments have sparked indignation in Jamaica, Lightning Bolt’s country.

“I’m still working with the fact he dropped from 10-flat to 9.6 in one year,” American Lewis was quoted as saying. “I think there are some issues … countries like Jamaica do not have a random (dope control) programme so they can go months without being tested.”

But Bolt attempts to negate Lewis’ insinuation.

“I know I’m clean. I work hard for what I want,” said the 6-foot-5 sprinter.

“I know what he said,” said the Jamaican. “To me it doesn’t really matter what he said, a lot of people were saying that.

“When you run the 100 metres that’s what you get. As long as you’re fast they start saying that.

“It’s like a trend. I’m trying to change that. It’s a bad image for the sport.

“Carl Lewis can say whatever he wants. That’s just his opinion.”

Indeed, a lot of tongues went a-wagging when Bolt won the gold in 100m, 200m, and 4×100 relay events – quite easily in the view of many observers. Thus, the suspicion that Bolt maybe using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs for such an impressive runs.

But Bolt says he owed it all to strict training.

“The 200 is also sprinting, that was key,” he said. “The only thing I had to do was get my start right and I got my start right.

“That’s why my last 50 metres are so good because I’ve got speed and endurance.”

Bolt also denies the accusations thrown at him by many of his naysayers that there is inadequate testing program in his country, as well as in other Caribbean nations.

“For sure we get tested in the Caribbean,” he said. “They like to come to your house early in the morning.

“It’s not cool getting up at six, seven in the morning when you’re just trying to enjoy your sleep. But I know what it’s for and it’s fair. We get tested all the time.

“When you’re in the top 20 in the world you get random tested. They get to know your whereabouts.”

Further, Bolt talks about his career path. He says he would definitely defend his records at the London Olympics in 2012.

I’ll be in London … I hope it isn’t cold,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that. “I can be champion again. I’ll be 26 then. I have a lot of time on my hands. All I have to do is stay focused, train hard and be ready.”

And track fans would probably see him in the 400 meters.

“In the future I’ll probably step up to 400 metres,” he said. “But it’s a lot of work. I’m not ready for that kind of work.”

Friday 19, Sep 2008

  Carl Lewis comments on Usain Bolts possible steroid use backfires

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usain-bolt-steroidsSo, it’s now down to trash-talking instead of track-running.

The word war steams up between Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt, or at least Bolt’s nation, Jamaica. Suffice it to say that Lewis will not be welcomed in Jamaica with open arms but with a barrage of the now world-renowned Trelawny yams. Here are some excerpts from a scathing editorial which appeared on the Jamaican Observer. The editorial basically sums up Jamaicans’ sentiment on Carl Lewis.

No sooner had the world slapped down Mr Jacques Rogge for his reprimand of Mr Bolt’s celebration on winning the 100 metres in a new world record, we now have the xenophobic US Olympian, Mr Carl Lewis, raising doubts about the authenticity of Mr Bolt’s outstanding achievements.

According to a Caribbean Media Corporation report published in last Saturday’s Observer magazine, Sporting World, Mr Lewis, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, raised strong doubts about Mr Bolt’s performances in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4×100 metres relay – all won in world record times – but cleverly stopped short of accusing the Jamaican sprinter of taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Lewis, himself an Olympic medalist – nine gold medals out of 10 Olympic medals – dropped some controversial comments at his recent interview with Sports Illustrated.

“When people ask me about Bolt, I say he could be the greatest athlete of all time. But to run 10.03 seconds one year and 9.69 the next, if you don’t question that in a sport with the reputation it has right now, you’re a fool. Period,” Lewis said.

Mr Lewis who, in the past, has used his stature as an Olympic champion to oppose the acceptance of Caribbean athletes, particularly Jamaicans, by American colleges, went further to try and smear Jamaica’s drug-testing programme.

“Countries like Jamaica do not have a random programme, so they can go months without being tested,” he fumed.

Then he delivered what he obviously believed would be regarded as some form of objectivity by saying: “No one is accusing Bolt, but don’t live by a different rule and expect the same kind of respect. How dare anybody feel that there shouldn’t be scrutiny, especially in our sport.”

The editorial defends that Jamaica has ‘never felt itself beyond inspection’ and that they are, in fact, under the International Association of Athletic Federations’ random drug screening program.

All this, of course, exposes Mr Lewis’s lies which, we believe, are driven by envy and the fact that his own athletics career – during which he won nine Olympic gold medals – has been shrouded in suspicion.

Ouch, that hurts!

Lewis has, indeed, gotten embroiled in a steroid scandal himself. If you remember that back in 2003, Dr. Wade Exum suggested of some anomalous activity within the United States Olympic Committee. Exum, director of the drug control administration of USOC from 1991 to 2000, provided documents to support his claim with the names of around 100 athletes who had failed anti-doping tests but were later cleared to compete at the Seoul Olympics. Among the athletes was Carl Lewis.

It was further revealed that Lewis tested positive three times before the 1988 Olympics for three banned stimulants pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine. The initial decision was to ban him from said Olympics and slap him with a six-month suspension but that decision was later overturned when USOC accepted Lewis’ excuse of inadvertently using said banned compounds. Subsequently, Lewis was cleared to compete in Seoul.

At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Carl Lewis received the silver in the 100-meter event, falling behind Canadian Ben Johnson. He was awarded the gold, however, when Johnson was later disqualified for failing a doping test. Lewis was awarded world record for running the 100 metres at 9.93 seconds.

Wednesday 17, Sep 2008

  Usain Bolt under scrutiny because of Jamaica’s inadequate steroid testing program

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usain-bolt-steroidsCarl Lewis and Victor Conte are two prominent personalities who have been engaged in running – the former running on the athletic track, the latter running a steroid ring. These two ‘runners’ suspect sprint superstar Usain Bolt’s performance at the recently concluded Beijing Olympics could not only be due to his diet of homemade yams but to steroids and other performance enhancers as well.

Conte has recently expressed his misgivings about the impressive performance of athletes coming from the Caribbean countries like Jamaica. Conte’s suspicion is based on the fact that these countries lack or have inadequate testing programs for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. This is also the basis of Lewis’ skepticism; that unlike the United States, Jamaica has humungous task ahead regarding its anti-doping policy.

“I’m proud of America right now because we have the best random and most comprehensive drug-testing program. Countries like Jamaica do not have a random program, so they can go months without being tested. No one is accusing Bolt, but don’t live by a different rule and expect the same kind of respect. How dare anybody feel that there shouldn’t be scrutiny, especially in our sport?”

Understandably, Lewis’ comments has raised some hackles in Bolt’s country, particularly Herb Elliot, Jamaica team doctor and a member of the IAAF antidoping commission. Elliot stated that the US was circulating “condescending crap” at the Olympics. “They still think we don’t know anything down in Jamaica,” he said.

In 2003, Lewis was one of the athletes whose names appeared in the documents provided by Dr. Wade Exum to Sports Illustrated. Exum was the United States Olympic Committee from 1991 to 2000.

The American athletes, numbering to about 100, failed anti-doping screenings and should have been disqualified from participating in the Olympics but were nevertheless got clearance to compete. The documents said Lewis tested positive three times prior to the 1988 Seoul Olympics for three banned stimulants – pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine. He was banned from said Olympics and was suspended for six months. Lewis denied he consciously used the banned substances, a claim which USOC had believed and prompted them to clear Lewis for future competitions.

Thursday 21, Aug 2008

  Victor Conte offers some advice to WADA on steroid testing

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Victor Conte steroidsTo Victor Conte, the Caribbean is not only great for doing some R and R, but for doping as well.

In his letter to the New York Daily News, the former big boss of BALCO is giving out unsolicited advice for anti-doping organizations to step up their testing policies. And we’re sure Conte meant well and definitely knows what he’s talking about. He is a reformed man since he has spent some time in prison and then some more time on house arrest, we think any man would have the opportunity to turn over a new leaf under those circumstances. And for masterminding the biggest steroid scandal in history, we are sure he knows the ins and outs of steroid use.

Apparently, Mr. Conte is so concerned with the problem of doping in sports that he met with the former WADA boss Dick Pound in December 2007. Then, Conte has stressed the importance of implementing more out-of-competition testing to curb the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

On said meeting, Conte said he advised Pound to deploy “disguised testers” to Jamaica, providing WADA with details about a certain drug supplier there. Conte pointed out to Pound the futility of undertaking testing at competitions saying that it is during the offseason period that PEDs are widely used “when athletes use anabolic steroids in conjunction with intensive weight training and develop the explosive strength base that serves them throughout the competitive season”.

Pound, however, stepped down two weeks after the meeting, according to Conte, and the organization “failed to act upon the information.”

As for the ongoing Games in Beijing, Conte has this to say:

I have no evidence of doping by any of the winners of medals in Beijing, but when times begin falling like rain, questions arise, especially when the record-setters are from countries such as Jamaica and other Caribbean nations where there is no independent anti-doping federation. In the women’s 100 meters, for instance, four of the eight finalists in the event were from such countries. Jamaican women swept all three Olympic medals: Shelly-Ann Frasier’s winning time of 10.78 seconds is blazing fast, and reflects a drop from a best of 11.31 in 2007 to 10.78 in 2008, an improvement of more than five-tenths of a second in a single year and about five meters faster than before.

In the letter, Conte also talks about Usain Bolt, who won the men’s 100-meter gold medal and whose triumph Conte considers as “a shocking world-record time of 9.69.” Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson also merited a special mention in Conte’s letter.  Thompson won the silver in same event in a personal best time of 9.89.

Conte says that that something is going on considering that five out eight finalists in the men’s 100-m race were from an area “where there is minimal out-of-season testing and five-of-six 100-meter medals were won by athletes from Caribbean countries without independent anti-doping federations”. Conte, however, reiterates that he has no knowledge that said athletes were involved in illegal activity. He says: “All I know is that they and other athletes come from regions where minimal offseason testing is administered.”

Conte’s ends his appeal with these statements:

There is a desperate need for each of the Caribbean countries to have an independent and fully functioning anti-doping federation. Until that is the case, the sprinters from these countries are going to continue to be under a cloud of suspicion.

I believe that these athletes need to be frequently drug tested on a random basis during the offseason, so that the cloud of suspicion can begin to move on. It’s my opinion that more effective drug testing in the Caribbean will help to restore the credibility of entire sport of track and field.

Thursday 21, Aug 2008

  Christine Ohuruogu is now track’s golden girl despite missed steroid tests

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Christine Ohuruogu SteroidsYou’ve got to give to it to Christine Ohuruogu. This 24-year-old Brit girl is so good in running – running on the track and running from doping-steroid tests.

Despite being banned for one year, Ohuruogu stood on the podium on Tuesday, basking in Olympic glory after finishing the 400-meter event at 49.62 seconds. Stunning is what many described the race, in which Shericka Williams of Jamaica took the silver while Sanya Richards of the United States, the event’s favorite, earned the bronze medal.

FYI, Ohuruogu missed three doping (steroid) tests in the period between October 2005 and July 2006 and because of those infringements she was served one-year ban lasting until August last year. After a mere three weeks after serving her ban, she won her world title in Osaka, Japan.

Subsequent to her third missed test, she received the ban from the International Association of Athletics Federations. Ohuruogu attempted to overturn the ban by taking her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. CAS upheld the decision of the IAAF.  CAS, however, stated that “no suggestion that she is guilty of taking drugs” and that “this case can be viewed in all the circumstances as a busy young athlete being forgetful”.

The Nigerian-born Ohuruogu also received a lifetime ban from the Olympics because of a British Olympic Association bylaw barring anyone with a doping conviction from representing Britain. She was able to challenge and won the BOA ban on appeal as the independent Sports Dispute Resolutions Panel agreed that there had been “significant mitigating circumstances.”
We thought that being ‘forgetful’ is a lame excuse for going around dope tests, but it seems it’s considered as a valid reason. Other athletes, we’re sure, we’ll be a tad forgetful during screening time.

As for her recent victory in Beijing, Ohuruogo says: “I am just so proud of myself. I know I am the type of athlete who rises to the big occasion.”

The AFP describes Ohurougu’s winning moment and the dejection of those who aspired for the gold and lost it to the controversial Briton. The drama unfolds in Beijing:

Ohuruogu … looked out of it rounding the bend and with 100 metres to go.

(Sanya) Richards, who had said last week that she thought the Briton was fortunate to be competing here, looked at that point set fair for the gold she believed was her due after a miserable year suffering from a rare illness in 2007 as she had a clear lead.

However, down the straight the Jamaican-born naturalised American started to tie up and Ohuruogu’s more measured and controlled race paid off as she passed two Russians and then the final prize of 23-year-old Richards.

Ohuruogu crossed the line just ahead of the fast-finishing Williams, who had passed a tiring Richards.

Ohuruogu could scarcely believe what she had achieved, sinking to her knees and then lying on her back.

Richards, who as a result of Behcet’s disease suffered such bad mouth ulcers that she could not eat or talk and dreadful lesions on her legs, cut a dejected figure.

“I’m not well. I just worked so hard for this.

“This is so devastating for me. I was in control coming round the curve and then my right hamstring cramped on me.

“It went with 70 metres to go. I feel so betrayed by my body again.

“It’s such a tough break.”