Usain Bolt, a young 6'-5" Jamaican got a perfect start and with a helping tailwind just under the legal limit, set a new world's record in the men's 100 meter dash over the weekend at 9.72 seconds. It's the 14th time the world record has been set or equaled since electronic timing was introduced at the 1968 Olympics (all by men of West African descent, of course).Track and field could use a decade or so without any new world records. In the women's 100m, nobody has come close to the late Florence Griffith-Joyner's 10.49 seconds in the 100m and 21.34 in the 200m in 20 years, which is a good thing.
I suppose this new Jamaican could be the real deal. Bolt is ridiculously tall for a 100m man at 6'-5", which normally interferes with starts, so he's previously specialized in the 200m where his long stride has time to prevail. But if he nails a start now and then, he might really be this good, kind of like John Daly in golf, who is a double-jointed behemoth.
Or he just might be juiced to the gills.
You can usually get an idea by looking to see if the upper body is ridiculously over-developed. But there aren't that many pictures of Bolt online yet and he seems to wear a rather non-form-fitting jersey, so it's hard to tell. Lots of juicehead sprinters make it easy for you to guess by wearing skimpy jerseys and frequently stripping them off in front of cameras to reveal their Mr. Universe torsos. In contrast, after Barry Bonds started hitting the juice in 1999, he always wore rather shapeless long-sleeved jerseys buttoned to the neck. Barry is a jerk, but he's not stupid.
In 2004, 18-year-old Allyson Felix from LA, then a slip of a girl with no arm muscle definition at all, ran a ladylike 22.18 in the 200 meters for a silver medal at the Athens Olympics. That was cheering. I could envision her running similar times for three more Olympics and winning a bundle of medals without any suspicion of doping. She's a fine young lady, who just graduated from USC despite not having a track scholarship because she's been running professionally for four years.
But in 2007, Felix ran a 21.81, the only time 22 seconds has been broken by a woman since it was done in 2000 by Marion Jones, who is now in prison. Women ran 200m in under 22 seconds 78 times from 1979 through 2000, but only Felix has done it in the last 7 years. Felix now has got more muscular arms, although hardly in the class of, say, Gwen Devers in the old days. I'd feel better about her if she wasn't from LA, where a lot of bad stuff involving sprinters and doping has happened, and hadn't left her old coach Patt Connolly (coach of Evelyn Ashford, sometimes said to be the fastest clean women ever) for Flo-Jo's old coach Bobby Kersee.
The men's 200m times show more progression, although hopefully nobody will threaten Michael Johnson's 19.32 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Women's running was just hit harder by synthetic male hormones up through 2000 because women get a bigger bang for their buck from them.
By the way, the 1993 and 1997 Chinese National Games were festivals of doping with lots of silly women's world records being set. The official website of the Chinese Olympic Committee still boasts: "At the Games, five of its runners surpassed the world records in the 1500m, 3000m and 10000m on 13 occasions." Yeah, sure. That was another reason I didn't understand why the Olympics were given to Beijing instead of Paris.
And the Chinese really want to win the most gold medals in Beijing in 2008. I imagine they don't want to disgrace themselves at home either by getting caught.
So, will the Chinese do the right thing or do the wrong thing?