Usain Bolt did not exclude rival Andre De Grasse from racing him in a 100m in Monaco on Friday, the meet director reportedly said.
De Grasse’s coach was quoted in Canadian media saying that De Grasse — a Rio Olympic 100m and 200m medalist — was “booted out” of the Diamond League race and instead put into a separate 4x100m relay, per Bolt’s wishes.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold will air live Monaco coverage Friday at 2 p.m. ET, with Bolt’s race at 3:35. It’s Bolt’s last meet before August’s world championships, after which he is to retire.
Meet director Jean-Pierre Schoebel denied the claims from De Grasse’s camp, according to the Times of London.
“I am surprised because we discussed with the agent, and it was a discussion about money,” Schoebel said, according to the newspaper. “We don’t have the budget, and we stopped the discussion because we couldn’t find the money, so I don’t see why now there is a problem. [Bolt] explained that he was ready to face every athlete. But we are not able to pay every athlete.”
Bolt’s team also denied playing a role in De Grasse’s exclusion, according to British media. De Grasse refuted his coach’s reported claim on Friday, too.
“That was not true,” De Grasse said, according to the Telegraph. “I was never supposed to race Usain here. My focus was on the worlds. I just came here to run the relay with my teammates. Usain would never try to not run against someone. He’s a legend in the sport.”
Bolt, who is on a four-year winning streak, is known for rarely facing his chief rivals outside of major meets.
In 2012, London Olympic 100m and 200m silver medalist Yohan Blake cited “big money” for why he and Bolt didn’t race each other more often.
Appearance fees and sponsors can complicate top sprinters from facing each other. Bolt and De Grasse both wear Puma.
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