Did Yohan Blake just make it seem dopey to watch track?

  • Pin It
Usain Bolt (l) congratulates Yohan Blake after Blake's stunning race Friday in Brussels.  (Francois Lenoir / Reuters)

Usain Bolt (l) congratulates Yohan Blake after Blake's stunning race Friday in Brussels. (Francois Lenoir / Reuters / December 16, 2013)

In 2009, just before the world championships, Blake tested positive for a prohibited stimulant.   The penalty in force at the time for the substance in question was two years, although it fell in a category of substances that allowed for reduced penalties (or a mere warning) if the athlete could demonstrate it was not intended to enhance performance.

After first being exonerated on an (incorrect) technicality, Blake wound up with a three-month ban from Jamaica's Anti-Doping Commission, an organization with the deserved reputation of being a fox guarding the henhouse because it does so few unannounced, out-of-competition tests.

But it's easy to make numbers fit any scenario one wants.

Bolt, for instance, lowered his PR in the 100 by 3.4 percent in one year, going from 10.03 in 2007 to a world record 9.69 in 2008.  In his defense, Bolt had been strictly a 200-meter specialist until running his first 100 in 2007.

While Blake largely was focusing on the 100, he also had been running the 200 regularly for six seasons.

Blake's time in Brussels has not gone unnoticed.  James Carter, a two-time U.S. Olympic hurdler, tweeted Friday, "I think Blake just tested the new juice for next year. . .Looks like it works. . .Get ready London."

(In case you need a translation, "juice" is a banned performance-enhancer.)

So where were we?  Oh, yes, the idea that Blake would have beaten Bolt in the 100 at the worlds in Daegu, South Korea.

Blake won that race in 9.92 seconds, running into a headwind.  Last week in Zurich, he ran a personal best 9.82 with no wind.  Bolt ran 9.76 Friday with a tailwind that, when factored in, makes his time about the same as Blake's personal best.

So the answer about Daegu is: based on what each has done this season, there is very little to separate Blake and Bolt -- who are in the same training group -- in the 100.

Maybe that's why Bolt felt getting a fast start was so important it led him to false start.

Or, dare I say, maybe what Blake did Friday is just another of the falsehoods that have undermined track and field for some three decades.

  • Pin It