Usain Bolt is being failed by Jamaican athletics chiefs, according to US Anti-doping Agency boss Travis Tygart.
Jamaican athletics has recently come under global pressure to revamp its under-fire drugs testing regime following a number of high-profile cases.
And USADA chief executive Tygart believes the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association’s lack of action only serves to condemn stars like Bolt to doubts and unfair scrutiny of his stunning sprint record.
Tygart has long since lobbied the JAAA for change and warned that Bolt will continue to suffer unfounded rumours and accusations until a robust testing policy is in place.
“Absolutely it lets him down,” said Tygart of Jamaica’s lacklustre anti-doping policy.
“It’s really unfair to question athletes’ performances just because of an inspiration story or whatever it may be, there’s a legal process for that.
“That said, it happens unfortunately, and I think it’s really unfair to those athletes that it does happen.”
Bolt’s 9.58 second world-record time over 100 metres and his 19.19s 200m landmark set him apart for intense scrutiny around the world.
Tygart said that athletes should not have to spend their entire careers batting away unsubstantiated accusations simply because of supreme performance. And that is where he has called for first-class anti-doping regulations to end such arguments once and for all.
Tygart criticised Jamaican athletics bosses for failing to give Bolt and his team-mates the means with which to dispel question marks over outstanding performances. “Those athletes ought to be able to stand up and, in addition to being able to say they are clean, also have people believe that.
“Furthermore, they ought to be able to say ‘I am held to the highest standard, so there’s some credibility and co-operation behind my statement that I am clean’. And that’s where athletes are being let down by the Jamaican authorities. They deserve to have the right to be able to do that. Every athlete and all of us who love sport ought to be pushing for change.”
Tygart, the man who brought down Lance Armstrong, also said that time is running out for cycling to confront its culture of doping and clean up the sport once and for all. Tygart said “another day can’t go by” before cycling moves forward with the independent reform commission that is looking into the sport’s history of doping and the governing body’s alleged complicity with Armstrong. Tygart said the sport has progressed under the new leadership of UCI President Brian Cookson, who ousted irishman Pat McQuaid in September. But Tygart says Cookson and the UCI must move urgently to complete the independent inquiry and erase cycling’s drug-riddled reputation.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from elite sport for life by USADA after the agency detailed systematic doping by the American rider and his teams. After years of denials, Armstrong admitted to doping in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Armstrong refused to co-operate with Tygart’s investigation. He has said he would be willing to testify before the independent commission, but has also made clear he is seeking a reduction of his lifetime ban.
Tygart said Armstrong’s appearance before the commission is not vital because most of the information about his doping has already come out. He said it would still be in Armstrong’s personal interest to testify “from a reputational and rehabilitation standpoint”.
There’s also no need to hear from former UCI presidents McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen, he said. “There’s plenty of information outside of them showing up to testify that can be useful for putting a stake in the ground and moving forward.”
Tygart said the UCI under McQuaid failed to live up to promises made in November 2012 to deal with the Armstrong fallout. Since Cookson was elected, the UCI has set up the Cycling Independent Reform Commission to look at the doping issues, including allegations the governing body had helped cover up Armstrong’s cheating.
“Regime change is a successful outcome,” Tygart said. “We’re as hopeful as we’ve ever been with the new president. They have taken action in a relatively short period of time.”