Swanny’s World of Sport - Bolt win isn’t enough to save athletics

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning gold in the men's 100m.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning gold in the men's 100m.
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Like the rest of the world I was thrilled that Usain Bolt beat Justin Gatlin in the World 100m Final in Beijing.

It was good triumphing over evil. It was Posh, and every other Football League club, beating MK Dons.

But I was less thrilled by Steve Cram’s commentary on the BBC than most. Cram came up with a terrific sequence of comments stating: ‘Bolt has saved his title! He’s saved his reputation! He may have even saved his sport!”

Now you can’t argue with the first point, while the second strange point is forgiveable, but ‘saved his sport’? How does that work then?

Bolt saved athletics from the huge embarrassment of having an unrepentent two-time drugs cheat as the world champion in their marquee event. That’s all he saved.

Five of the nine finalists in the World Final had served doping bans. Just because Bolt, who has never failed a drugs test, beat them all doesn’t mean a widespread drug problem has gone away.

Bolt’s gold medal doesn’t mean that every athlete showing rapid improvement will no longer be subjected to long, hard suspicious stares.

Just because a freak sprinter remains the best in the world doesn’t make the blood doping scandal uncovered by the Sunday Times recently any less damning.

Of course it’s far easier for the sports cheerleaders, led by BBC commentators who continue to leave their impartiality outside the booth, to try and crush dissent with hyperbole, but the issue will not go away that quickly.

And I have no confidence that Seb Coe, the new International Association of Athletics Federation president, will clean up the sport.

Coe is a former Tory MP so he’s capable of saying anything (or skirting round troublesome issues as he did in his latest off-track race) to get elected.

But his comments leading up to his victory, and immediately after it, have been weak. He sounds like a man in denial about drugs and doping in athletics.

It’s a shame as Coe was one of the main reasons the Olympics in London in 2012 were seen as so successful. His boast that they had created a lasting legacy unravelled rather quickly though.

But Coe, although he fails to see it himself, is tainted by an association with Nike, the company who publicly back Gatlin, a man who has been setting personal best times at an age when most sprinters have retired.

Coe is a £100k a year ambassador for Nike. How exactly does that square with his, no doubt genuine, desire to restore the reputation of athletics?

There were over 50 convicted drug cheats competing in Beijing in the World Championships. Jamaica even let one of theirs, Asafa Powell, carry their flag at the opening ceremony.

This is the mindset Coe must change now he is the most powerful man in athletics. Don’t get your hopes up though.