Usain Bolt ‘sad’ dop­ing talk dom­i­nat­ing Bei­jing worlds

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY LUKE PHILLIPS

Ja­maican sprint star Usain Bolt ex­pressed his sad­ness Thurs­day that dop­ing is­sues rather than track talk were dom­i­nat­ing the build-up to the world cham­pi­onships that start in Bei­jing on Satur­day.

Ath­let­ics’ world gov­ern­ing body IAAF has re­cently been mired with al­le­ga­tions over dop­ing, while Bolt’s main sprint ri­val is Justin Gatlin, the con­tro­ver­sial Amer­i­can who has served two dop­ing bans, the lat­ter for four years af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for testos­terone.

“It’s re­ally taken cen­tre stage,” Bolt said of the dop­ing is­sue. “All I’ve been hear­ing over the past cou­ple of weeks is dop­ing, dop­ing, dop­ing.

“The ma­jor­ity of ques­tions are about dop­ing, it’s def­i­nitely sad.”

But Bolt played down sug­ges­tions that he was the “sav­ior” of track and field, say­ing he alone was not ca­pa­ble to turn­ing the tide.

“Ini­tially I’m run­ning for my­self, that’s what I do,” he said. “Peo­ple say I need to win for the sport, but there are a lot other ath­letes who are run­ning clean.

“It’s not only on me be­cause can’t do it my­self.

“I think it’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all the ath­letes to take it upon them­selves to help save the sport and show the sport can go far, with­out drugs cheats or ath­letes who’ve taken drugs.”

Ready to De­fend

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Bolt, the six-time Olympic gold medal­ist and world record holder in both the 100-me­ter and 200-me­ter, added: “I just try to do what’s right by the rules of the IAAF, WADA and ev­ery­body. We all know the rules and we just have to abide them.

“It’s not only up to me be­cause I can’t do it by my­self be­cause I’m not the only one in the sport.

“It’s up to all the ath­letes to un­der­stand the rules and abide by them and just work hard to be the best: it will make sports a bet­ter place.”

Bolt might have en­dured a stop­start sea­son de­but, but he vowed he is ready to de­fend his dou­ble sprint ti­tles at the world champs.

The tow­er­ing Ja­maican gets his cam­paign un­der way in heats for the 100-me­ter on Satur­day, the open­ing day of the com­pe­ti­tion that runs un­til Aug. 30.

For Bolt, it will sig­nify a re­turn to Bei­jing’s iconic Bird’s Nest sta­dium, where he first made his name with a thrilling golden tre­ble in the 2008 Bei­jing Games.

Since then, bar one hic­cup in the 100-me­ter at the Daegu world cham­pi­onships in 2011, Bolt has won ev­ery sprint and re­lay ti­tle at world and Olympic level.

Bolt last month roared back from an early sea­son pelvic joint is­sue that saw him miss six weeks of com­pet­i­tive ac­tion with backto-back 100-me­ter times of 9.87 sec­onds at the Lon­don Diamond League meet­ing.

That left him sixth in the 2015 list of the fastest sprint­ers over 100-me­ter, with Gatlin atop the group of elite ath­letes, hav­ing run a per­sonal best of 9.74 sec­onds in Doha in May, hav­ing also clocked 9.75 twice and 9.78.

Great Mem­o­ries

“I’ve been train­ing hard these past few weeks to put my­self in the best pos­si­ble con­di­tion to run well and de­fend my ti­tles over the next week,” Bolt in­sisted.

“Coach (Glen Mills) is happy and that’s al­ways key be­cause when he’s happy I know I’m in good nick.

“Ev­ery­one knows that the cham­pi­onships are the most im­por­tant for me. That is what I train for. The one-off races are im­por­tant but the medals and ti­tles are given out at the cham­pi­onships.

“My rac­ing sea­son wasn’t ideal this year but I have great con­fi­dence in my coach and his abil­ity to get me into shape at the right time.”

Bolt added that mem­o­ries of seven years ago were not lost on him.

“Bei­jing was where it all started for me at the Olympic Games in 2008. I have great mem­o­ries of this city and the sta­dium. It’s great to be back here, I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting on the track on Satur­day.”

Ser­ena Wil­liams pumped her fist af­ter each im­por­tant point and screamed as she smacked another em­phatic shot. The de­fend­ing Cincinnati cham­pion wasn’t go­ing to ease into the tour­na­ment.

Wil­liams put a lot of emo­tion into her open­ing match at the Western & South­ern Open on Wed­nes­day, a 7-5, 6-3 vic­tory over Tsve­tana Pironkova that made her the first of the top seeds to ad­vance.

Novak Djokovic won his rain-de­layed open­ing match, beat­ing Benoit Paire 7-5, 6-2. Third-seeded Andy Mur­ray and eight-seeded Rafael Nadal also ad­vanced in rain-de­layed matches that ended af­ter mid­night.

Wil­liams won the Cincinnati tour­na­ment for the first time last year, get­ting one of the few ti­tles that had eluded her. This year, she’s us­ing it as a fi­nal tuneup for the U.S. Open, where she’ll be the fo­cus as she tries to com­plete a rare Grand Slam sweep.

For her, this week is about get­ting her game ready to take a swing at history.

“I think it could be a lot bet­ter,” she said. “It’s not where I would want it ideally, but, you know, I’m

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