Like most people I was captivated by the men’s sprint events at the Olympics, and like everybody else I was amazed at Bolt’s record and also by the margin by which he won. But I can remember the last time that I was this staggered by an Olympic sprint final, 1988, Seoul.
Then of course it was Ben Johnson that was unstoppable, and it was Ben Johnson that broke the world record and destroyed the field in the 100m. It was also the year that athletics was irrecoverably tarnished in my eyes. Ever since then I have viewed athletics differently, appraised the results differently and sadly been far more cynical.
Bolt’s 100m triumph.
This cynicism had faded somewhat over the years, until we had a slew of sprinters found guilty of doping and not just the nearly men either, the top athletes. For the first time that I could remember since 1988, the world record started going backwards. Tim Montgomery was stripped of his world record for doping, then Justin Gatlin. The top female spriner Marion Jones was eventually revealed as a drugs cheat as was British No.1 Dwain Chambers.
My mind inevitably went back to 1988 and Ben Johnson and had me wondering whether the top athletes since then had really been clean, or had just gotten away with it.
Sadly I think that it may have been the latter.
I hope that Bolt is clean, and other than his amazing results, there really has been no reason to doubt him, but just looking at the picture takes me back 20 years and to the huge disappointment that I felt when Johnson was exposed as a drugs cheat.
Should Bolt be exposed at some point in the future as a drugs cheat, it will surely bury the 100m sprint as no one will believe what they see anymore.
Bolt’s 200m triumph
Only time will tell whether Bolt is clean, hopefully he is, but because of Ben Johnson I will always have a nagging doubt and be waiting for that positive test.