Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt: ‘I know I’m clean’

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Usain Bolt must have known he’d face questions about the latest track and field doping scandal going into his first competition since Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell admitted to testing positive for banned substances.

Sure enough, he was asked if the public could trust him in a news conference Thursday, one day before he runs at a Diamond League meet at London’s Olympic Stadium.

Bolt “rolled his eyes,” according to Reuters, and explained how he’s been setting records since he was a teenager.

“I was hoping that question would come later in the day,” he said. “How long have you been following me — since 2008 maybe? If you’ve been following me since 2002, you would know I’ve been doing phenomenal things since I was 15. I was the youngest person to win the world juniors. I ran the world youth record at 17. I’ve broken every record there is in every event I’ve ever done. For me, I’ve proven myself since I was 15. I’m just living out my dream now. I was made to inspire people and made to run. I was given a gift and that’s what I do. I know I’m clean, so I’m just going to continue running and using my talent and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Bolt’s case for being clean is that he’s been posting elite times for more than a decade. Unlike some athletes who have doped and gone on to dramatically lower personal bests or leapfrogged their peers all of a sudden, Bolt’s always been more or less a constant.

“Hopefully we can move past this,” Bolt said of the recent doping news, according to Agence France-Presse. “It’s definitely going to set us back a bit as a sport.

“I just have to focus on the World Championships, run fast, and hopefully make people forget about this.”

Bolt will run the 100 meters in London at 4:48 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, one day before the one-year anniversary of the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games. Bolt won triple gold in London, just as he did in Beijing in 2008. This is his first meet in London since the Olympics.

His track club, Racers, is also entered in the 4×100 relay Saturday. So look for Bolt to possibly anchor that quartet as well.

On Thursday, Bolt said the only substances he’s ever taken are legal vitamins, that he was surprised about the recent drug-test news in track but wouldn’t comment, according to the Telegraph.

“Every athlete takes vitamins,” Bolt said, adding he was drug tested on Tuesday. “But I don’t really take supplements.

“I’m clean. You have to be careful as an athlete, but I’m not worried because I have a great team around me. As a person I make sure I’m careful as well. You have to trust the people around you because they check everything you’re taking to make sure it’s not on the banned list. They read the fine print.”

Bolt did say he texted Powell, his fellow Jamaican whom he took the 100-meter world record from in 2008.

“I’m not going to stress about it (doping),” Bolt said. “I know I am clean and I just want to improve the sport and that is what I am going to do.”

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Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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