Tuesday 12 December 2017

Usain Bolt stripped of Olympic gold medal after Jamaican team-mate disqualified for doping

Jamaica's Michael Frater, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Usain Bolt pose with their gold medals during the medal ceremony for the men's 4x100m relay at the National stadium as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 23, 2008.
Jamaica's Michael Frater, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Usain Bolt pose with their gold medals during the medal ceremony for the men's 4x100m relay at the National stadium as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 23, 2008.

Ben Bloom

Usain Bolt has been stripped of one of his nine Olympic titles, after one of his Jamaican 4x100m team-mates with whom he won gold at the 2008 Games, tested positive for a banned substance.

The world’s greatest track-and-field star can no longer lay claim to the title of "triple-triple" Olympic champion, after Nesta Carter was caught out in the reanalysis of urine and blood samples from the Beijing Games.

Carter, the sixth fastest 100m runner of all time, ran the opening leg of the Olympic final eight years ago as Jamaica stormed to victory in a world-record 37.10sec, helping Bolt to a clean sweep of sprint titles as he burst onto the global stage at his first Games.

However, news emerged last summer that Carter was on a provisional list of 31 athletes who failed a retest of their doping samples, which took place using the latest scientific techniques in order to weed out drugs cheats ahead of Rio 2016.

The Jamaican did not compete in Rio and has been fighting to clear his name, but the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday confirmed his sample had tested positive for the prohibited substance methylhexaneamine.

All four members of the Jamaican relay team – which also included Michael Frater and Asafa Powell – have now been stripped of their medals from Beijing 2008, ruining Bolt’s perfect Olympic record of 100m, 200m and 4x100m triumphs.

Original silver medallists Trinidad & Tobago are now likely to be upgraded to gold, with Japan boosted to silver and Brazil bronze.

Speaking last summer, Bolt said he would have no problem giving back a medal if it was proven that he had won it alongside a drugs cheat.

"It’s heartbreaking [the positive test] because over the years you’ve worked hard to accumulate gold medals and work hard to be a champion... but it’s just one of those things," he said.

"Things happen in life, so when it’s confirmed or whatever, if I need to give back my gold medal I’d have to give it back, it’s not a problem for me."

With a 100m personal best of 9.78sec set in 2010, Carter had been a vital member of the all-conquering Jamaican 4x100m team led by Bolt, which has won three Olympic and four world titles over the past nine years. He also won individual 100m bronze at the 2013 World Championships.

Carter, who has not run competitively since news of the failed test first emerged last June, had plied his trade at Jamaica’s MVP track club alongside double Olympic sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Powell.

Bolt, on the other hand, runs at Racers, Jamaica’s other leading athletics club and MVP's main rivals, who also boast Yohan Blake and Warren Weir in their ranks.

Although Carter also claimed gold medals alongside Bolt at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships and London 2012 Olympics, there is no suggestion of a doping violation having been committed during any of those competitions.

Confirmation of Carter’s failed test means he is the latest in an ignominious list of the fastest men in the world to commit doping offences.

Behind 9.58sec world record holder Bolt, every other man to run under 9.79sec has served a drugs ban at some point in their career with Tyson Gay (9.69sec), Blake (9.69sec), Powell (9.72sec) and Justin Gatlin (9.74sec) all falling foul of anti-doping regulations.

While there may be some sympathy for Carter and company, news that Tatyana Lebedeva has also been caught in the IOC's 2008 and 2012 re-testing programme will not attract much pity.

The winner of 17 global medals during a glittering career, Lebedeva claimed silver medals in the long jump and triple jump in Beijing but now loses those thanks to a positive test for the steroid turinabol.

Now 40, the Russian will keep the long jump gold she won in Athens in 2004 and triple jump silver she won in Sydney four years earlier. She is also a three-time outdoor and indoor world champion.

She skipped most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons to have her second daughter but returned to competition for the London Olympics in 2012, when she came 10th in the triple jump.

Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare should inherit her long jump silver from Beijing, with Jamaican Chelsea Hammond stepping up to bronze.

With the original bronze-medal winner Hrysopiyi Devetzi of Greece already banned from triple jump, Lebedeva's silver should go to Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan, and Cuba's Yargelis Savigne will now get bronze.


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