MONTE CARLO: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt fears he will lose millions of dollars in potential sponsorship as a result of suggestions that he could be barred from competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The claim has come from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as it carried out a probe into Jamaica’s drug testing program for athletes.
Bolt, who was honoured for being named World Athlete of the Year for the fifth time last Saturday in Monte Carlo, said he is bothered by the threat to his ability to earn money from the sport.
“It’s really costing me money now, and I’m not too happy about that,” said Bolt. “Track and field is my job, that’s the first thing. I know we’ve been going through a lot when it comes to drug-testing, WADA and the IAAF. There’s been a lot going on.”
WADA’s probe into Jamaica’s drug testing program took place after a number of high profile Jamaican athletes tested positive for banned substances.
WADA had warned that athletes from Jamaica – like Bolt – could be prevented from competing in Rio, if Jamaican authorities did not address their concerns.
“This actually caused a lot of problems for me and my management,” said Bolt. “A sponsor came up to us and said ‘we’d like to sponsor you’. They then used an agency that does background checks to figure out if it’s viable (to sponsor) and it came back that WADA had said that I would not be eligible to run at the next Olympics.
“That information is not correct, so there are a lot of things that are going on with this drugs thing that I really feel they need to clarify because it’s causing problems for me when it comes to making money from my sport.”
Jamaican sprinter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who was also awarded female athlete of the year last weekend, threatened that she was prepared to strike if more support was not forthcoming from Jamaican authorities on WADA’s position.
However, Bolt said he is not prepared to walk the picket line with Fraser-Pryce.
“Shelly, you’re on your own with that,” he said. “It’s hard for me to strike because it’s my job. For me, it’s a big problem that they need to sort out immediately. It’s not helping any athlete at all and it’s really causing problems. We really need to get this out of the way and move past this.”