LONDON — Six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt said he’s a “clean” athlete, while adding that recent drug cases including some of his Jamaican national teammates are a setback for the sport.
On July 14, U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, respectively the fastest and third-fastest men in the world this season, said they wouldn’t compete at next month’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow after testing positive for banned substances.
Last month, Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, a two-time Olympic 200-meter champion, accepted a provisional suspension from competition following a positive test for a banned diuretic.
“It is going to set us back a little bit,” Bolt told reporters at a press conference Thursday in east London ahead of Friday’s IAAF Diamond League meet, also known as the Anniversary Games, at the Olympic Stadium.
Bolt, world record-holder at 100 meters and 200 meters, went on to say that he didn’t want to focus on doping issues with the world championships only 16 days away.
“I am clean,” he said. “I’m just trying to work hard, run fast and hopefully help people trying to forget what’s happening and move on and look forward to the world championships.”
During a 20-minute press conference, Bolt — the only man to successfully defend both the 100- and 200-meter titles at an Olympics — was mostly asked about doping issues.
He didn’t want to be drawn on whether the current two-year ban for serious doping violations should be extended to four years, or whether certain food supplements should be taken off the banned substances list.
“You have to be careful as an athlete about what you do, and what you ingest and the food you eat and stuff like that,” Bolt said. “But I am not worried because I have a great team around me to make sure everything goes smoothly. As a person, I make sure I am careful also. That’s all I can do.”
Gay, who has the fastest 100-meter time of 2013 at 9.75 seconds, said July 14 that one of his samples from an out-of- competition test in May came back positive for an undisclosed substance.
Powell, the former 100-meter world record-holder, said the same day that he’d tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican national trials in June. Fellow Jamaican Sherone Simpson, a silver medalist in the women’s 400-meter relay at London 2012, also tested positive for the same substance at the trials. All the athletes said they’d never knowingly taken banned drugs.
Bolt said he’d been in touch with Powell once since his positive test.
“I told him sorry to hear what has been going on, and he said ‘Yes, it’s kind of rough, it’s hard.’ And I told him to stay strong and focused and hopefully everything will work out.”
Bolt added that there were “a lot of details left to be discussed,” regarding Powell’s case.
Bolt, the reigning 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter relay Olympic champion, is one of 29 London medal winners who will be competing at the Anniversary Games. Bolt will start in the 100 meters Friday, followed by the 400-meter relay on Saturday, exactly a year after he carried the Jamaican flag in the London 2012 opening ceremony.
Other Olympic champions competing include Britain’s Mo Farah, winner of the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events, and 400- meter winner Kirani James of Grenada.
All 80,000 tickets for the three-day event were sold out within 75 minutes.
With assistance from Erik Matuszewski in New York.
(c) 2013, Bloomberg News.