Olympic and world sprint champion Usain Bolt said on 20 August, he has been saddened by the focus on doping in the run-up to the World Athletics Championships but said it was up to all clean athletes, not just him, to save the sports.
The governing International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has spent the three weeks leading up to its showpiece event defending its record on doping after a string of embarrassing leaks. The Jamaican told a news conference that it is sad that he has been hearing too much about doping rather than competition.
"People are saying I need to win for the sport but there's a lot of other athletes out there running clean, and who have run clean throughout their whole careers," the Jamaican told a packed news conference in Beijing. "So it's not only just on me because I cannot do it by myself. It's a responsibility of all the athletes to take it upon themselves to save the sport and show that sports can go forwards without drug cheats."
In the midst of the doping crisis, the sprint showdown between Bolt, who has never failed a drugs test, and in-form American Justin Gatlin, who has served two suspensions for using banned substances, has been billed as a battle for the soul of the sport. Gatlin's second positive test, in 2006, would normally have earned him a lifetime ban but after he agreed to cooperate with the anti-doping authorities that was cut to eight, and then four years.
Bolt, who turns 29 on 21 August, said he had no problem running against Gatlin if the rules say the former Olympic and world champion is eligible, and rejected the idea that, as the sport's biggest star, it was his responsibility to save it.
It was at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing that Bolt first established himself as the sport's biggest star, winning both sprint titles and a relay gold, all in world record times, at the 2008 Olympics.