World’s most famous athlete calls for end to false claims about Jamaica’s doping problems after revealing would-be sponsor pulled plug on endorsement deal.
Usain Bolt has claimed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s high-profile investigation into Jamaica could cost him a lucrative sponsorship deal because the potential sponsor wrongly believes Wada’s warnings that the island could be thrown out of the 2016 Olympics.
But Bolt, speaking after being named the International Association of Athletics Federations male athlete of the year, said he would not be following his compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – who won the women’s award – in going on strike if Jamaica’s athletes are not better looked after by their federation. “It’s hard for me to strike because it’s my job,” said Bolt. “Shelly-Ann, you’re on your own with that.”
Bolt, who lifted the IAAF athlete of the year award for the fifth time in six years on Saturday, acknowledged that “Jamaica has had some problems this season”, but added “that is not part of my focus”. Instead, he said misinformation from Wada had caused him “a lot of problems”.
The threat of that has since receded after Jamaica agreed to work with the United States Anti-Doping Agency to improve its anti-doping procedures, The Telegraph said, but Bolt said he was still suffering from the fall-out.
“I know we’ve been going through a lot when it comes to drug testing, Wada and the IAAF, but this is causing a lot of problems for me,” he said. “When a sponsor came up to us and was saying ‘we’d like to sponsor you’.
They then used an agency that does background checks to figure out if it’s viable to sponsor you and it came back that Wada had said I would not be eligible to run at the next Olympics.
That information is not correct, so there are a lot of things that are going on with this drugs thing that I really feel they need to clarify because, for me, it’s causing problems for me when it comes to making money from my sport.
“We really need to get this out of the way and move past this, get the rules down, get everything straight and get it down fast, because we need to move on,” Bolt added.
“In every sport there are drug scandals and problems, but people move past it. That’s what we have to do because it’s really costing me money now, and I’m not too happy about that.”
John Fahey, the outgoing president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said that Jamaica could be ruled non-compliant with the WADA code because of failings in the country’s anti-doping programme, which could lead to its expulsion from the Olympic Games, The Telegraph reported.
The Telegraph also reported that Bolt was backed by Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, who accused WADA of waging a campaign against countries like Jamaica and Kenya with their public criticisms and of behaving in a “ridiculous” manner.