Usain Bolt urges vigilance over doping ahead of last race
The sprint king says track and field will die if the battle against drugs cheats is not won
The greatest athlete of all-time has warned that doping could still destroy the sport if officials become too complacent.
Usain Bolt spoke as he prepares to race solo for the final time, in the 100m at the World Championships in London on Saturday, bringing down the curtain on a glittering career that has done so much to restore the battered reputation of track and field.
But the 30-year-old Jamaican, an eight-time Olympic champion and the 100m and 200m world record holder, believes that the sport he has graced so majestically for a decade must not drop its guard.
Singling out the McLaren report, which detailed evidence of a Russian state-sponsored doping programme, Bolt said: "Personally I think we were at rock bottom. After the scandal on Russia I don't think it gets any worse than that. Over the years we're doing a better job, it's getting clean and we're catching up to a lot of athletes. There's an understanding that if you cheat you will get caught."
Bolt, who will be competing in the men's 100m final on Friday and Saturday, and the men's 4x100m relay a week later, believes that progress is being made in cleaning up athletics. "I said a couple of years ago it had to get really bad, when there's nowhere else to go but up," he said. "Doping is always a bad thing and it's never pleasant because you put in the hard work and the sport starts going forward and then you have other guys bringing it back, it's hard."
Nonetheless Bolt said that athletics, and sport in general, must keep fighting hard to educate people about the pitfalls of doping.
"Hopefully athletes will see what’s going on in sports and understand that if they don’t stop what they are doing, then sports will die," he said. "Hopefully they understand what they need to do as athletes to help sports move forward.”
As for the world championships, which begin in London on Friday, Bolt was his usual confident self in assessing his chances of victory in the 100m.
Despite the fact he's raced only three times this season, the triple Olympic 100m champion declared his surprise at learning he's not the favourite to win his fourth world championship title.
"For some reason I am the underdog,” said Bolt, who hasn't been beaten in a 100m or 200m race since 2013. "That is what my team keep telling me so I have to prove myself once more. But I am confident in my abilities, always. When I go out there I am fully confident and ready to go – 100 per cent."
Asked if he still believed he was the fastest man in the world, Bolt shot back: "Yeah, without a doubt. The last 100m race I ran was a 9.95sec which shows I am going in the right direction. It is all about who can keep their nerves. I have been here many times and I know I am ready. It is go time."