Drug cheats leave a stain
This is the story of how other athletes’ drug cheating has damaged the reputations of superstars Usain Bolt and Valerie Adams.
Bolt has never failed a test and, unlike cyclist Lance Armstrong throughout his career, there have never been even whispers of cover-ups.
Yet the tall Jamaican spends much time these days restating that he is a ‘‘clean’’ athlete.
His phenomenal world records are 9.58s for the 100m and 19.19s for the 200m.
It used to be claimed that a sprinter could not break 10 seconds for the 100m without chemical assistance. That immediately casts a slur on Bolt.
Further, Jamaican sprint stars Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell- Brown – Bolt’s stablemates – returned positive tests this year, as did his closest rival, American Tyson Gay.
When the history of sprinters is considered, it looks even worse for Bolt. Ben Johnson, Linford Christie, Dennis Mitchell, Tim Montgomery, Dwain Chambers, Marion Jones, Torri Edwards, Katrin Krabbe, Kelli White, Michelle Collins and many others were acclaimed as sprint champions, then failed tests.
Therefore, cynics suggest, it’s only be a matter of time before Bolt is caught, too.
The Jamaican has won three 100m world titles, and two over 200m, and has twice achieved the 100m-200m double at the Olympics. He is a massive personality, popular everywhere.
But because of the cheating of others there is an asterisk beside his name.
Adams has just won her fourth world shot put title, to accompany her two Olympic Games golds.
At the 2013 world champs in Moscow, she and Russian pole vaulting legend Yelena Isinbayeva were voted the greatest female athletes.
The New Zealander has been unbeaten for nearly three years and has been the world No 1 every year since 2008, except 2010, when the now-banned Nadezhda Ostapchuk cheated to gain the honour.
In New Zealand there is serious debate about whether Adams is the greatest New Zealand sportsman or woman ever.
She certainly at least shares the same pedestal as Peter Snell, John Walker, Jack Lovelock, Richard Hadlee, Richie McCaw, Bob Fitzsimmons, Yvette Williams, Anthony Wilding, Erin Baker, Susan Devoy, Danyon Loader and Colin Meads.
What counts against her is that she has never set a world record.
Her personal best of 21.24m is way behind Russian Natalya Lisovskaya’s world record of 22.63m, set in 1987.
In the drug-addled 1970s and 80s, when testing was rudimentary and sports administrators happily turned a blind eye, the cheats reigned.
Adams’ personal best would not place her in the top 10 on a 1980 all-time world ranking list. Her best doesn’t even approach the mark set by Russian giant Nadezhda Chizhova in 1973.
Either modern shot putters are a bunch of weaklings, the best shot putters 30 or 40 years ago were all sports freaks, or another factor is at play.
Everyone knows women’s shot put records are farcical. Since 2000 no clean shot putter has even approached Adams’ best.
Yet she is still marked down because she has not broken a world record. That’s the effect of the drug cheats on her standing.
Athletics has had major problems for decades with cheating athletes and weak administrators, but surely that’s no reason for the reputations of greats such as Bolt and Adams to suffer.
Track king: Usain Bolt celebrates yet another world title.
More gold: Valerie Adams makes it world title No 4.