Usain Bolt came into the room like the ``living legend'' he would soon anoint himself, in a jovial style, smiling and joking with his pals, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir. Silver medalist Blake sat to his right and bronze medalist Weir to his left as they took their places at the podium table.
The questions for gold medalist Bolt came with each passing of the microphone by Olympic officials to the next eager journalist from God knows which corner of the globe. Everybody wants to know about The World's Fastest Man. Nobody wants to know much about the second fastest man. That is, unless the three fastest men on earth--at least in the 200 meters--all come from the same island nation of 2.8 million people.
What I wanted to know was: Are you guys doped up? Simple question, to which the answer should be simple, too. So I decided to ask it just like that. I waved at the Olympics lady, one of them, and she whispered that I'd get my chance. But when I had the mic and was ready to ask my question, somebody with another microphone butted in. I waited, got my turn, and said quickly, ``Can you assure us that you and the Jamaican drug team--''
It was a slip of the tongue, a classic Spoonerism, and the place exploded in wild uproarious guffaws. ``Hyaw! Har Har Har!'' Now there are many in these packed rooms, remember, who are ``journalists'' only in the nominal sense. They wear the same tracks suits as their country's athletes. They cheer and clap in the press box. They root like fans. The guys in front of me were madly taking photos of one another, grinning like hyenas, with Bolt in the background. These ``journalists'' want entertainment.
So, anyway, I said, ``Excuse me, a slip of the tongue...the TRACK team, the sprinters, are drug free?''
The laughter calmed. Bolt looked at me and said he hadn't heard the whole question.
I said slowly and carefully, ``Do you feel certain the Jamaican sprinters are drug free?'' Got it properly that time, I did.
``Without a doubt,'' Bolt replied. `` Without a doubt. Without a doubt. We train hard. Especially my teammates. We stick together and we see each other work every day. Yohan doesn''t throw up. He doesn't like it--he won't do it. But we work out. We throw up every day. We have injuries, we take ice packs. We lay on the track-- I've seen the work we've put in to do the best.''
It was a good, straightforward answer, if you don't mind vomiting references. I had only asked in the first place because the odds are against the small-country triumvirate of speedsters being teammates under one flag, one coach. Plus, we know the history of doping and Olympic sprinting.
``When people doubt us, it's really hard for us,'' Bolt finished, almost forlornly. ``Because we try our best to show the world that we run clean.''
It was good to hear him on record. Hope he's right. Hope I learn to speak right.
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USAIN BOLT ANSWERS MESSED-UP DOPING QUESTION
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