KINGSTON, Aug 12 – Usain Bolt, the World's Fastest Man, leads a host of Jamaican title hopefuls into the World Athletics Championships at Berlin after a doping scandal and team dissension have rocked the lineup.Bolt, who set 100m and 200m world records at the Beijing Olympics, and women’s stars Shelly-Ann Fraser, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Melaine Walker will try to repeat their golden Olympic efforts with world titles on the line.
But the credibility of Jamaican performances was undermined last month after it was revealed that five Jamaicans, all who had qualified for the worlds, tested positive at the national trials in June.
"Definitely it’s sad to know there are still drugs (in the sport) but for me it doesn’t really matter, as long as I’m clean I’m just going forward," Bolt said.
"It’s sad for the sport because the sport was getting on so well, I was trying to bring it back. This is probably a step backwards because people start questioning everybody, especially from Jamaica.
"For me it doesn’t matter because I will be going out there, day after day, doing my best. I get tested all the time. It shows that people get tested and they get caught if they are on drugs."
Indications from the Jamaican camp were that the five – four men and a woman whose identities have not been revealed – might not be greeted warmly as some senior sprinters are not willing to have them on the same relays.
On the heels of that controversy came a split in the team when members of the MVP Track Club – including former 100m world record-holder Asafa Powell plus Fraser, Walker and Williams – might be removed from the team, supposedly for failing to attend a mandatory training camp in Nuremburg.
Bolt’s showdowns with American Tyson Gay, the reigning sprint double champion, in the 100 and 200 could be the top races of the meet.
Gay is on form this season, running 9.77 in the 100m and 19.58 in the 200m, while Bolt’s preparations were slowed because of an car accident in April. Powell also has the speed to challenge both men when on peak form.
Bolt has season best times of 9.79 and 19.59 and could be a threat to lower the world records set in Beijing of 9.69 in the 100 and 19.30 in the 200.
In the women’s 100, defending champion Campbell-Brown, veteran Fraser and 2009 world-leader Stewart, who has a 10.75 this year, are a threat to repeat a Jamaican podium sweep from Beijing.
American Allyson Felix leads the world this year in trhe 200 with a sizzling 21.88 but Campbell-Brown’s determination could take her to a surprise victory.
Jamaicans’ other best chances are in the women’s 400m with Williams, who will have Jamaican-born American Sanya Richards and Russian Antonina Krisvoshapka to contend with, and with Walker, who faces a tough task of beating American Lashinda Demus.
Both sprint relays – the women’s with Campbell-Brown, Fraser, Stewart and company and the men’s with Bolt, Powell and Frater – are title threats as are ther Jamaican women in the 4×400.