Sprint king snaps at 'attention-seeking' Lewis for doping slur


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The Independent Online

When Usain Bolt crossed the finish line in the Olympic Stadium with his left index finger pressed to his lips after completing his back-to-back sprint double on Thursday night, it seems the doubters he was shushing were not just those who suggested he might have shot his bolt over fitness and form. In the late-night aftermath, the world's fastest man was quick to launch a stinging attack on another Olympic legend of track and field, Carl Lewis.

It came when Bolt was asked to respond to claims by Victor Conte, the sporting drugs baron in the Balco scandal, that six out of 10 athletes at London 2012 would be using performance enhancing substances.

He snapped: "It is really annoying when people on the sideline talk stupid stuff. I think a lot of these guys who sit and talk… especially Lewis, no one really remembers who he is, so he is just looking for attention. That is my opinion.

"It is really annoying to know that people are trying to taint the sport. The sport has been going forward. For someone to say that without any proof is really annoying. We work hard. We push ourselves to the limits."

Clearly, Bolt has a long memory. It was back in September 2008, in the wake of the Jamaican's world record feats at the Beijing Olympics, that Lewis cast aspersions on Bolt. The American, who won nine Olympic gold medals as a sprinter, long jumper and relay runner, said at the time: "When people ask me about Bolt I say he could be the greatest athlete of all time. But for someone to run 10.03sec one year and 9.69sec the next, if you don't question that in a sport that has the reputation it has right now, you're a fool. Period."

Speaking at the official press conference for the 200m medallists in the early hours yesterday, Bolt returned to the attack. "Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him," he said. "The things he says about the track athletes… it is really downgrading for another athlete to be saying something like that about other athletes.

"I think he's just looking for attention really because nobody really talks much about him. So that was really sad for me when I heard what he was saying. I have lost all respect for him.

"It was all about drugs, talking about drugs. For an athlete out of the sport to be saying that is really upsetting for me."

Asked if he could assure people that Jamaican athletes were drug-free, Bolt said: "Without a doubt. We train hard, especially my team-mates. We see each other work every day. We work hard. We get injuries. We have to take ice baths. We lay on the track.

"So I see the work we put in to be the best that we are. When people doubt us, it's really hard. But we're trying our best to show the world that we are running clean."

Bolt has never failed a drugs test. In 2003 Dr Wade Exum, the United States Olympic Committee's director of drug control administration from 1991 to 2000, passed documents to Sports Illustrated magazine which revealed that Lewis had tested positive three times before the 1988 Olympics for the banned stimulants pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine.

The United States Olympic Committee accepted his claim of inadvertent use, waiving a six-month ban that would have kept Lewis out of the Seoul Olympics – and his big 100m showdown with Ben Johnson. The Canadian sprinter won in a world record 9.79sec but subsequently tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol and Lewis was upgraded from silver to gold, meaning he retained the Olympic 100m title.