Bolt 'let down' by Jamaica

Usain Bolt (Gallo Images)
Usain Bolt (Gallo Images)

London - Usain Bolt is suffering from Jamaica's much-criticised drugs policy, according to United States Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart.

Bolt's fellow Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, the two-time Olympic 200 metres champion tested positive for the specified substance hydrochlorothiazide last May, but she argued the urine sample collected had been compromised and saw a two-year ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Tygart said it was wrong that Bolt, the world record-holder at both the 100 and 200m and a multiple Olympic champion, was constantly having to protest his innocence of drug-taking because of doubts over the reliability of Jamaica's anti-doping programme.

"Absolutely it lets him down," Tygart, speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference at London's Wembley Stadium, said Thursday.

"It's really unfair to question athletes' performances just because of an inspiration (unsubstantiated) story or whatever it may be, there's a legal process for that.

"That said, it happens unfortunately, and I think it's really unfair to those athletes that it does happen."

Bolt's 9.58 seconds world-record time over 100 metres and his 19.19s 200m landmark have made him one of the most scrutinised athletes of all time.

And while Bolt has never tested positive for a banned substance, Tygart said the sprinter's position would be bolstered by a more robust anti-doping regime in his native Jamaica.

"Those athletes ought to be able to stand up, and in addition to being able to say they are clean, also have people believe that," Tygart explained.

"Furthermore they ought to be able to say 'I am held to the highest standard, so there's some credibility and cooperation behind my statement that I am clean'.

"And that's where athletes are being let down by the Jamaican authorities.

"They deserve to have the right to be able to do that. Every athlete and all of us who love sport ought to be pushing for change."

However, World Anti-Doping Agency chief executive David Howman speaking at the London conference on Wednesday, was encouraged by Jamaica's changes to its testing procedures.

"They've done exactly what we've asked them to do to put their programme back into place," he said.

Meanwhile Tygart warned time was short for cycling to rid itself of the "sophisticated scheme to defraud" that lay behind the drugs scandal centred around disgraced US rider Lance Armstrong.,

The UCI, cycling's global governing body, has set up the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) in a bid to eradicate doping from the sport.

"Time is of the essence, we've been pounding this issue in the press, in front of the (US) Senate, the EU," said Tygart.

"Now is the time to take and fulfil the promise that the UCI leadership made at that point to take decisive and transparent action.

"In my opinion another day can't go by until it's put in place in a proper fashion and the process starts. It took baseball close to two years in the early 2000s.

"I don't think it needs to take that long, it can be done in a shorter period of time."

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