June 2, 2008

Jamaican breaks 100m dash record

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).

West Indians appear to be increasingly dominating sprinting, as African Americans lose interest in a sport that was very good to them in the 20th century. Between the Wars, black colleges switched from baseball to track as their big spring sport because tracks' results were objective. Grambling wasn't allowed to play LSU in baseball (or anything else), but Grambling sprinters could compete with LSU sprinters in the newspapers when their times were published.

But African Americans have been concentrating on just football and basketball in recent decades, with anything else considered fit only for athletes of dubious masculinity who don't like contact sports, such as Carl Lewis.

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. (Here's 2004 200m Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford, who has never failed a drug test, but still ...) 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 a couple of weeks ago 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, Gail 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?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

36 comments:

wren said...

Right thing or the wrong thing? My post-modern interpretation of their situational ethics would define the right thing as doping without getting caught, which would bring great pride to the motherland.

I can't decide if the wrong thing would be to get caught doping and not winning or to get caught doping after a win.

But to not win without doping might be the wrong thing too, if there is the possibility of winning without getting caught, which would be the right thing.

Or would it? I'm not as smart as the Chinese.

Mike McKeown said...

On a high school track forum, someone posted Bolt's time.

My response:

Until this year Bolt has never run below 10 flat !

Just a short time ago he ran 9.76 and yesterday he ran 9.72. In other words, he jumped from >10 to <9.8 in less than a year with no intermediate steps.

Usually, we would take these as FloJo numbers, or the stats of the Irish swimmer who also went from the back of the pack to world and Olympic records in one year. Such leaps in quality at the top level draw suspicion (think Ben Johnson). On the other hand, ESPN claims that he has been a 200 guy begging his coach to let him try the 100 (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=oly&id=3421194), so he only started seriously running the 100 last year.

My suspicions are high as the last time I saw someone beat a good performance by a top runner by that much was in 1988 when Ben Johnson beat Carl Lewis by 2 meters. Both of them were under the previous WR. The next day, or maybe two, it was announced that he was completely doped up on androgens.

Lets hope Bolt is clean and not using the next version of 'The Clear.' Sports Illustrated has already declared that track is now downgraded to a minor sport at the Olympics (behind subjective sports like gymnastics), and bicycling is ripping itself apart trying to stay clean even as the procedures are badly flawed.


A later posted noted that he is young and thus maturing, and also has run multiple fast 200s. This lead me to look up his record:

He appears to have run under 20 for the first time in 2004, and as of August 20, 2007 had been under 20 five times (http://www.iaaf.org/news/athletes/newsid=36356.html) (Yearly Progression
200/400: 2001 – 21.81, 48.28; 2002 – 20.58, 47.12; 2003 – 20.13, 45.35; 2004 – 19.93; 2005 – 19.99; 2006 – 19.98; 2007 – 19.75 (NR), 45.28).

I also found videos of a 20.02 in London last August and a 19.75 at, I think, the Jamaican Nationals of 2007 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQYW7VZ1HWc&feature=related). In the 19.75, he won by 2 m, just as he did in the WR 100.

TH said...

The world records for women's sprint events are all from the 80s, and nobody is going to beat them without some serious juicing. Florence Griffith Joyner, Marita Koch, Jarmila Kratochvílová et al. were barely women.

I think China is going to get more medals than any other nation in Beijing. They were second after the US in the last summer olympics medal tally, and they've been training like crazy for the home games. I wouldn't be too surprised if a huge doping scandal broke out in Beijing though.

John Craig said...

I've seen several pictures of Bolt, he doesn't look ridiculously muscled like a Maurice Greene or a Linford Christie, but who knows. I took heart at seeing Felix's success too, but when I heard she was running for Kersee, I blanched. Kersee has been the coach of, besides Flojo, Valerie Brisco Hooks, who won the 200 and 400 at the '84 Games in a big upset, plus, of course, his wife Jackie Joyner Kersee, who ended her career hobbbled by injuries. He's one of those coaches who has always given off a bad smell..... It's Gail Devers, btw, not Gwen Devers, you're probably thinking of Gwen Torrance. I wasn't struck by Devers' arms so much as her legs, which would have done an NFL linebacker proud......I know a guy whose parents attended the '88Olympics in Seoul and one evening they sat next to Mr. and Mrs. Ashford, who evidently told them that the only clean sprinters (400 meters on down) on the team were their daughter Evelyn and Edwin Moses....If you get a chance sometime check out pictures of Michael Johnson from '92 and contrast them to the pictures of him from '96, when he went his 19.32; quite a difference in build. (Of course, even juiced, a 19.32 is amazing.)....The entire swimming world is waiting to see what China does this summer in the pool (they've done nothing for the past several years). They had a period from around '90 to '94 where they were dominant in the pool the same way they were in distance running, then a bunch of them tested positive and they haven't been a force in swimming since.

Peter said...

I actually watched Bolt's record-breaking run when the tape-delayed meet was televised the next day, not knowing beforehand that it was going to be a new record. Bolt didn't seem excessively muscled, not standing out from the other competitors in any way, and of course there's ever-more-stringent drug testing in major meets.

Unless I hear otherwise I will consider him to be clean.

Truth said...

Usain Bolt (what a name for a sprinter!) may or may not BE on steroids, I would assume most track and field stars are, but he is not ABUSING steriods as he is listed at 6-5 189 lbs.

Alison Felix is about 5-6 125 and both of their faces look totally normal. They COULD have built the phisiques the had without steroids, unlike, for instance Ben Johnson, Katerina Krabbe or Flo-Jo. Did they? probably not.

Bill said...

There's no telling what the Chinese will do, but you can be sure that there will be a flock of white-smocked quacks hovering around every training camp hoping to steal credit for any athlete's success. The common Chinese quack, known colloquially as "menggu daifu" (Mongol doctor, i.e. shaman), is ubiquitous in Beijing, and I can only imagine that the Olympics will precipitate a frenzy of activity amongst the breed.

I wish the best of luck to honest Chinese officials who are trying to hold the line, but let's be honest: it's China, and trying to stop cheating is kind of like "kong zhong lou ge" (building a castle in the sky).

Anonymous said...

How old am I? So old that I saw a white guy win the dash at a major track meet.

Dave Sime - 1955 or so.

With mouse muscle implants whitey may come back.

I look forward to the day when the NBA is mostly white again. Nearly 90% of all American basketball players are white - only the good ones are black. Surely this manifestly inequitable state of affairs requires some biomedical reengineering.

desmond jones said...

B-B-B-Ben Johnson ran 9.79 in Seoul with a raised arm, on the juice of course.

"Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, a vocal critic of the IOC testing procedures, is the author of Speed Trap, which features Johnson heavily. In the book, he freely admits that his athletes were taking anabolic steroids, as he claims all top athletes are, but also shows why Ben Johnson could not possibly have tested positive for that particular steroid. Johnson actually preferred Furazabol. He thought Stanozolol made his body "feel tight"."

Anonymous said...

the idea that american blacks aren't winning sprinting competitions because they have stopped competing is ludicrous.

anyway' shouldn't nigerians be winning all this competitions because they are 100% west african and there are well over 100 million of them compared to 3 million jamaicans with various degrees of non african admixture?

Steve Sailer said...

I saw Valerie Brisco-Hooks beat Flo-Jo in the 200m at the Coliseum at the 1984 Olympics. Back then, Flo-Jo was a slip of a girl, while Hooks, coming back from pregnancy, was built like her NFL star husband Allen Hooks. The Sports Illustrated picture of them embracing after the race is startling in the contrast. Then in the next big race in 1987, Flo-Jo, still a slip of a girl, finished second to an East German girl who later got caught. So, Flo-Jo was the fastest clean 200m woman in the world, but she was still working in a salon on-and-off to make ends meet.

So, that fall, Flo-Jo called up Ben Johnson for training advice, and returned in the spring of 1988 looking like Wonder Woman. And the rest is history.

Stuart Buck said...

Allyson Felix doesn't look like the typical female steroid user. In any event, it looks like she has had good results from doing a lot of heavy deadlifts: http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/269/

Truth said...

"anyway' shouldn't nigerians be winning all this competitions because they are 100% west african and there are well over 100 million of them compared to 3 million jamaicans with various degrees of non african admixture?"

Maybe, but 97 million of them are more concerned with trivial, secondary pursuits such as eating and recovering from malaria.

seth said...

"shouldn't nigerians be winning all this competitions because they are 100% west african ..?"

I'm sure the slavery and American conditions had some effect on African physique. When a population's economic importance is their physical labor, then things change over generations. As an aside, would Frankie Fredricks be regarded as West African? I mean, he seems more Southern African. We know West Africans are sprinters and East Africans are distance runners, but South Africa does not seem so specialized.

Anonymous said...

Steve---Bolt and Powell are not tested as often as US athletes, and their "random" tests are very predictable. This is their competitive advantage over black US/UK sprinters.

And of course anyone who runs 9.72 is juiced to the gills.

John Craig said...

I look forward to the day when the NBA is mostly white again. Nearly 90% of all American basketball players are white - only the good ones are black. Surely this manifestly inequitable state of affairs requires some biomedical reengineering.

Nah. Just a little affirmative action.

John Craig said...

So, that fall, Flo-Jo called up Ben Johnson for training advice, and returned in the spring of 1988 looking like Wonder Woman. And the rest is history.

She may have thought that her long fingernails and fancy one-legged outfits would draw attention away from her newly muscled legs and lower voice; but she was wrong... She was never a slip of a girl btw, unless you're speaking comparatively. In 1984 she had personal bests of 11.01 and 22.5 for the sprints, the latter good enough to win bronze in Los Angeles. I remember seeing pictures of her at that meet, and while she had a relatively feminine look and an attractive face, she had haunches that were most definitely three dimensional.

Steve Sailer said...

Flo-Jo in 1984 vs. 1988 -- the big difference was in her arms. I have a picture in an old Sports Illustrated from 1984 of 200m winner Valerie Brisco-Hooks embracing runner-up Florence Griffith-Joyner. The winner's arms are twice the diameter of the loser's.

You can see how that could just eat away at you.

wongba said...

china is pretty serious about cutting doping down. they're penalizing entire sports if two or more athletes in a sport are caught doping. the sport will be eliminated from next year's national games which are on par or more important than the olympics for chinese in terms of financial rewards and prestige. any doper caught is barred from competition and now are promised prison terms. if there is a huge doping scandal, it won't be b/c the gov't encouraged it.

KlaosOldanburg said...

i know nothing about track, but i look at the veins if i'm trying to figure out if someone's on steroids. the veins on a roider are the least normal-looking thing on his body.

John Craig said...

"You can see how that could just eat away at you."

We've seen the same thing in swimming a number of times. Right now the most prominent example is probably Dara Torres, who is mounting a well-publicized comeback at age 41 and is also widely suspected of juicing. She swam in the '84, '88, and '92 Games, winning medals as part of relays but never getting the individual nod. During those years she witnessed countless East German and Chinese women who were obviously doped become champions. She retired after '92, then suddenly came back in '99 with a much harder, more muscular look. (She won three individual bronzes in Sydney.) She then retired again, and unretired in '07. At age 40 she set a new American record in the 50 meter freestyle and now, at age 41, has her sights set on the Beijing Games. Hmm. There are plenty of other examples, too numerous to mention.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe, but 97 million of them are more concerned with trivial, secondary pursuits such as eating and recovering from malaria."

If only Nigeria was blessed with a valuable natural resource like oil, then maybe the Nigerians could afford to get their act together.

John Craig said...

This is a little off-topic, but if anyone is curious, here's an excerpt from the case against Dara Torres I posted on a swimming website a few days ago where I mentioned the veins thing:

Does anyone remember what Torres looked like from 1984-1992? She had a very pretty face, and also a feminine body which was always covered by a discernable layer of fat. She was strong, and there was -- and is -- no denying her talent (she still holds the 13-14 NAG record in the 50 yard free from 1982, a point in her life when she was undoubtedly clean). But it seemed at the time -- because of her feminine look -- that she had more female hormones (or at least fewer male hormones) than the average champion female swimmer of the time. (Of course, the average female champion of that era was still either East German or Chinese, but that's a different matter.)

When Torres came back in 2000 she had a totally different look: muscular and hard. Now it's possible to lose the baby fat through diet and exercise -- I've seen plenty of women who look fitter as 40 year olds than they did as teenagers -- but those are almost always women who didn't exercise as teenagers and then got religion later in life. Torres swam for Florida in college and certainly swam at least as much yardage back then as she did swimming with the Stanford program in '00, and certainly far more yardage than she is now swimming for Michael Lohberg in Coral Springs. So if the exercise doesn't account for the lack of fat, what does? Diet might, but it's almost impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time if you're dieting, and Torres definitely looked much more muscular in '00 than she did in her earlier incarnation.

The thing that really threw me was seeing how she was doing her lifetime best 200 lcm free after just one year of training at age 33. Now I could maaaaaybe believe that someone who's been keeping their swimming muscles fit could do their best 50 at age 33. But the 200 is an entirely different animal, it requires a lot of background yardage and a lot of cardiovascular conditioning. And over the course of seven years out of the pool you're going to lose a lot of that, a lot of your capillaries are simply going to close up from lack of use. Yet after just one year of training, Torres broke two minutes for the first time. The real shocker came when she broke the AR in the 100 lcm fly with a 57.59 after never having broken a minute in her earlier career. And, to be honest, I have a hard time believing that someone is going to come back after seven years away from the sport and do a lifetime best 50. (This is why all the "a's" in the maaaaaybe above.) You do sometimes see masters swimmers who will do lifetime best 50's in their late twenties or early thirties, but these are usually swimmers who never swam those events in college, other than on the way out to a 100, and none of these swimmers were world class when younger. You simply don't see it with world class swimmers for whom the 50 was their best event.

I remember seeing a photo Torres had posed for for Speedo in '00. She was standing in a relaxed pose and you could see the veins coming out of the front of her shoulder and upper pectoral muscle. This is an area where most people don't have veins, and the people you see who do are usually the 'roid monsters you see on the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine etc. (Another abnormal area where 'roiders sometimes show veins is on the sides of their quadriceps.) What happens when you take steroids is that as the muscles thicken and grow, there is simply less room for the veins, so they pop to the surface of the body, where they become visible right below the skin. Those of you who are clean, look at the front of your shoulder/upper pectoral area. You won't see veins there the same way you do in your forearm or hand. Yet bodybuilders have them there all the time -- and it's not because they do a lot of cardio training.

Torres was supposed to have been close to Quick in '00, and Quick's name supposedly appeared on the Balco list. (Why else would he have had to leave Stanford so suddenly?) And why did Jenny Thompson dislike her so intensely? Torres certainly seems personable enough when she's interviewed on TV.

Everything I've said here is either circumstantial evidence or hearsay. Do I have an actual smoking gun? No. Then again, nobody ever has a smoking gun unless they've witnessed someone taking PEDs, and who ever does that? And add up all the circumstantial and hearsay, and it's pretty overwhelming. Then throw in a dash of common sense and the experience the rest of us have had aging, and it's very hard to believe she's clean.

Anonymous said...

Truth said:

"Usain Bolt (what a name for a sprinter!) may or may not BE on steroids, I would assume most track and field stars are, but he is not ABUSING steriods as he is listed at 6-5 189 lbs."

I wouldn't bet on it. First of all, there is a 99.9999% chance than anyone running under 10.00, let alone 9.72, is "juiced to the gills."

Second, I looked at some recent pictures of him on the web and he IS packing an incredible amount of muscle on a very narrow skeletal frame. Also, I wouldn't take that listing at 6'5", 189 lbs. as necessarily accurate. Many sprinters are much heavier than they are listed. When I was rehabing from knee surgery, I noticed a picture of my physical therapist standing next to former 100m WR holder Maurice Greene on the wall of his office. He told me he was active in track circles. I commented on how massive (and short) Maurice looked next to him and then said that I guess 175 lbs (Maurice's listed weight) was quite large for a 5'9" man (Maurice's listed height) with 4% body fat. The physio told me that Maurice was actualy 5'8" and 210lbs with 4% body fat when in running shape. He also commented that many sprinters lie about their weight because if people knew how massive they really were, it would draw suspicions of steriod abuse. Also, on Bolt's IAAF profile he is listed at 76kg (167 lbs.). If he really is only 189 lbs. currently, this is still 22lbs. (of pure muscle) heavier than he was listed last year.

Truth said...

"If only Nigeria was blessed with a valuable natural resource like oil, then maybe the Nigerians could afford to get their act together."

Yes, and if only Iraq did, it would have a bargaining chip that would prevent all of these invasions.

KlaosOldanburg said...

i think SJP is the secret love child of dee snider.

my practically indisputable evidence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Dee_Snider_on_stage.jpg

jody said...

dara torres is on drugs, no doubt about that. the swimmer i wonder about is eamon sullivan.

in 2000, alex popov went 50 meters in 21.64 seconds. that was a new world record and a very fast record at that. over the next 8 years, there were only 3 swims total under 21.80!

at the beginning of 2008, eamon sullivan had a personal best time of 22.00. yet by march he had swam 50 meters in 21.56, 21.41, and an astonishing 21.28

testing99 said...

One advantage to US swimmers is swimming at altitude. USA Swimming trains at Colorado Springs, they have a high-altitude flume for training. I suppose you could also train at high altitudes in places like Leadville or whatever. So far the IOC has not banned this though low-altitude countries complain.

The advantage I suppose would be in the longer events.

rightsaidfred said...

I've been wondering about men's high jumping: the world record was set in "93 by the Cuban, who was eventually banned for life for being such an obvious doper. One of the Soviets of that era who held the world record for a while died of liver cancer. Yikes! Talk about "taking one for the team." I didn't know they meant pills.

Since then, the yearly attainment in the sport has been progressively lower, until "07 hit 10 cm less than "93, which is like an order of magnitude, so I'm wondering if the sport has gone natural since the peak doping era of the "80s and "90s, and if results in a minor sport like high jumping could be used as some sort of benchmark to measure the use of drugs in sports.

John Craig said...

Jody -- I'm agnostic on Sullivan. If he's enhanced, he's the most Milquetoasty-looking enhanced guy I've ever seen, though I have to admit the simultaneous rapid ascension of his girlfriend Staphanie Rice (who recently broke both individual medley world records) gives me pause. And I do realize that Hgh doesn't have the same visible effects that steroids do. But you also have to remember about Sullivan that he's been slowed by injury in the past, so that may have something to do with his improvements this year. The far more suspicoius improvements have come from Frenchmen Alain Bernard, currend WR-holder in the 100 at 47.50, whose upper body sports definition rarely seen among swimmers, and Amaury Leveaux, whose progression in the 50 meter free runs as follows: 2006, 22.9; 2007, 22.8; 2008, 21.38.

jlf said...

I just read a feature on Felix in Muscle and Fitness Hers, and you get a really good look at her body. She's super-lean, but in my opinion, it doesn't look like she's been doping at all. In fact, she looks so willowy that if I didn't know who she was, I would never in a million years think she was a sprinter. I'm sure you have more experience judging at this sort of thing than I do, but you should check it out next time you're at the magazine stand.

Anonymous said...

name me one jamaican who competes for jamaica that ever been tested positive... cheating is not part of our culture. there is no place to hide on that small island of 2.6 million... cheating is an american tradition... in american is winning at any cost, there slogan, "just win baby"... know a culture before talking about a culture... we are best sprinters in the world and no that they are coming down hard on american dopers jamaicans are now shining in a fair game...

Anonymous said...

steve mullins

Anonymous said...

here are some jamaican dopers right here....jerome young, patrick jerrett, steve mullings, donavan powell, julian dunkley, and ben johnson by way of canada

Anonymous said...

scuse me ...Julien Dunkley came home from USA where he lives to try out for our team, this is the first time he would have ever competed for Jamaica...so he picked up your the doping tradition in the USA...blah..

Steve Sailer said...

"She's super-lean, but in my opinion, it doesn't look like she's been doping at all. In fact, she looks so willowy that if I didn't know who she was, I would never in a million years think she was a sprinter."

Yes, Allyson Felix went on to the 2008 Olympics, where for the second Olympics in a row she finished second to a Jamaican woman with biceps about twice the size of hers. I hope Ms. Felix can keep herself on the straight and narrow path.

I was in the Coliseum in 1984 when Flo-Jo finish second in the 200 to an American woman with biceps twice hers in size. Then she finished second in 1987 world championship to an Eastern European. There's not a lot of money or fame in being a silver medalist. So, in 1988 she showed up looking like Superwoman.