Usain Bolt: Columnist Foolish to Paint Track Icon as Cheater
Usain Bolt has never tested positive for any performance enhancing drug, nor has he ever been accused of using morally questionable methods to win his six gold medals.
That is, until now.
CBS Chicago's Dan Bernstein recently wrote an article that all but blatantly accused Bolt of indulging in blood doping to catapult himself to Olympic stardom.
Bernstein uses the theory of guilt by association to convince his readers that Bolt is a doper.
He reminds us that Bolt's teammates, Yohan Blake, Julian Dunkley and Steve Mullings, tested positive for PEDs. He brings up Bolt's relationship with Angel Hernandez (formerly Angel Heredia), a former BALCO chemist who was tied with positive doping tests in track and field.
The author is right about Blake's positive test, but incorrect about what he tested positive for. Blake tested positive for methylxanthine, a decongestant that was not on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances when Blake tested positive in 2009.
Methylxanthine, per The Guardian is "often found in cough medicine and can be bought without a prescription over the pharmacy counter, adding to the potential confusion for athletes."
Strike one against Bernstein's argument.
He goes on to say, "It is a shame that even now, after Ben Johnson, the East German program, Chinese swimmers and BALCO, that a preponderance of evidence fails to create a chorus of doubt."
Bernstein talks about a "preponderance of evidence" in an argument that revolves around guilt by association.
Guilt by association is far from concrete evidence. Proclaiming someone guilty of doping because of the people he or she associates with is nothing more than a blasphemous accusation devoid of evidence.
Bernstein even goes far enough to question the culture of Jamaican sprinting, asking, "What are the odds that a tiny, island country suddenly dominates global competition…just because?"
Unfortunately for the purposes of Bernstein's argument, Jamaicans have long been a staple near the top of the sprinting world.
He insinuates that this sudden success came out of the blue; however, Jamaican sprinting dominance dates back to the 1948 London Games where Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley won gold and silver medals in the 400-meter dash. Jamaicans won five more medals at the 1952 Games and have brought home 58 more since then.
And strike three.
A quote from Carl Lewis is meticulously placed in Bernstein's article in hopes of strengthening his argument to convince the world that Bolt is indeed a doper. Lewis, who has publicly voiced his disdain for Bolt, basically says Bolt must be doping because his times improved from 10.03 to 9.69.
To accuse an athlete of doping strictly on the basis of an improved time is on the verge of slander.
My gripe with Bernstein pertains to the way he goes about his argument. He takes various opinions as concrete fact, conveying a valid argument, but not a sound one.
Do you think Usain Bolt is doping?
The premises of his argument lead to his conclusion, but it is irresponsible to take the opinions of BALCO's Angel Hernandez as fact, which he does in his article.
Bernstein doesn't accuse Michael Phelps of cheating. He doesn't accuse Missy Franklin or Ye Shiwen of the same despite their shattering of world records at the London Games.
What Bernstein does in his article is raise skepticism, but nothing more.
He finishes his baseless rant with the words, "Anyone wasting words extolling the greatness of Usain Bolt should know better," proving that he has already made up his mind.
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