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.

Photo: GETTY

Track king: Usain Bolt cel­e­brates yet an­other world ti­tle.

Photo: GETTY

More gold: Valerie Adams makes it world ti­tle No 4.

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