Usain Bolt lost his claim to the title of ‘triple-triple’ Olympic champion when a Jamaican 4 x 100 metres team-mate retrospectively tested positive for a banned substance and caused the 2008 Beijing gold medal winners to be stripped of their title.
Bolt, the world’s greatest track-and-field star, is now the only one of six sub-9.79 sec 100m runners not to have committed a doping violation, with double Olympic champion Nesta Carter caught out in the reanalysis of urine and blood samples from the Beijing Games.
Carter, the sixth fastest 100m runner of all time, ran the opening leg of the Olympic 4 x 100m final nine years ago as Jamaica stormed to victory in a then world-record 37.10 sec, helping Bolt to a clean sweep of sprint titles as he burst on to the global stage at his first Games.
However, news emerged last summer that Carter’s name was on a provisional list of athletes whose doping samples failed retesting when they were analysed using the latest scientific techniques in order to weed out drugs cheats ahead of Rio 2016.
The Jamaican did not compete in Rio and has been fighting to clear his name, but the International Olympic Committee confirmed his sample had tested positive for the prohibited substance methylhexaneamine.
All four members of the Jamaican relay team – which also included Michael Frater and Asafa Powell – have now been stripped of their medals from Beijing 2008, ruining Bolt’s perfect Olympic record of 100m, 200m and 4x100m triumphs from three Games.
Original Beijing 4x100m silver medallists Trinidad and Tobago are likely to be upgraded to gold, with Japan boosted to silver and Brazil bronze. Bolt could potentially lose other medals if any of Carter’s later samples test positive.
The International Association of Athletics Federations, in a statement on Wednesday night, said: “Once the IOC’s case and any appeal is concluded for the disqualification of Nesta Carter from the men’s 4x100m event at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 for an anti-doping rule violation, the IAAF will take it to the Jamaican federation to determine Carter’s sanction beyond this disqualification. The IAAF will also retest any samples it holds in storage for the athlete from other competitions.”
Carter is to lodge an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the verdict.
“Mr. Carter will be taking his appeal to CAS,” Carter’s lawyer, Stuart Stimpson, said on Wednesday.
Speaking last summer, Bolt, 30, described the Carter situation as “heartbreaking”, but said he would have no problem giving back a medal if the positive test was confirmed.
“It’s heartbreaking [the positive test] because over the years you’ve worked hard to accumulate gold medals and work hard to be a champion… but it’s just one of those things,” he said.
“Things happen in life, so when it’s confirmed or whatever, if I need to give back my gold medal I’d have to give it back, it’s not a problem for me.”
With a 100m personal best of 9.78 sec set in 2010, Carter, 31, had been a crucial member of the all-conquering Jamaican 4 x 100m team, claiming gold medals alongside Bolt at the 2011, 2013 and 2015 World Championships and London 2012 Olympics. There is no suggestion that a doping violation was committed during any of those competitions.
He also won individual 100m bronze at the 2013 World Championships.
Methylhexaneamine, an energy-boosting ingredient used in many dietary supplements, has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited stimulant list since 2004, although it was reclassified as a specified substance in 2011.
Wada defines specified substances as those that can “enter an athlete’s body inadvertently and therefore allow a tribunal more flexibility when making a sanctioning decision”.
A number of Jamaican athletes have previously failed tests for the same substance, with punishments ranging from a warning to a ban of up to a year.
Confirmation of his failed test means Carter is the latest in a list of the world’s quickest sprinters to commit doping offences.
Behind 9.58sec world record holder Bolt, every other man to run under 9.79sec has served a drugs ban at some point in their career with Tyson Gay (9.69sec), Blake (9.69sec), Powell (9.72sec) and Justin Gatlin (9.74sec) all falling foul of anti-doping regulations.
Carter, who has not run competitively since news of the failed test first emerged last June, has plied his trade at Jamaica’s MVP track club alongside double Olympic sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Powell. Bolt, on the other hand, runs at Racers, Jamaica’s other leading athletics club and MVP’s main rivals, who also boast Yohan Blake and Warren Weir in their ranks.
Bolt has already confirmed his intention to retire from athletics after the forthcoming season, when he will attempt to bow out by adding to his 11 world titles when he contests the 100m at the 2017 World Championships in London.
The IOC also announced that it had stripped Russia’s Tatyana Lebedeva of the triple jump and long jump silver medals she won at the Beijing Olympics after reanalysis of her anti-doping samples tested positive for the steroid turinabol.
The winner of 17 global medals during her career, Lebedeva also claimed Olympic long jump gold at Athens in 2004 and triple jump silver four years earlier in Sydney.