One year after Beijing, Jamaica team is in chaos

Aug 14, 2009 - 7:07 PM By RAF CASERT AP Sports Writer

BERLIN(AP) -- Usain Bolt vows to remain unfazed by the turmoil surrounding Jamaica's team at the world championships.

A year after leaving the Beijing Olympics in a blaze of glory, in large part due to Bolt's winning three gold medals in world record times, Jamaica has arrived in Berlin burdened by infighting and a recent doping case.

"The level of expectation is even higher than before Beijing, but I am ready," said Bolt, who has not been involved in either issue. In Beijing, he led Jamaica to a tally of six golds and 11 medals overall.

Heats in the 100 meters will kick off the championships Saturday morning with the final set for Sunday night. It is expected to be a tight race between Bolt and America's Tyson Gay.

But the chaos surrounding the Jamaican team will continue until at least Tuesday, when the world athletics federation will decide whether five of its relay runners provisionally cleared of doping can take part in the championships.

The IAAF learned on Friday that Jamaica's Anti-Doping Commission will have a ruling on the issue by late Monday, and said it will assess that decision and see if further action is necessary.

The athletes tested positive for a substance that is similar in chemical structure to a banned stimulant, but were cleared for a lack of evidence by a disciplinary panel appointed by the island's sports minister.

"The case of athletes testing positive is the most dreaded and fearful and stigmatized label that can be applied to any athlete, correctly so, absolutely so," Jamaica federation president Howard Aris said. "We have had situations in the past, but not with the magnitude in terms of numbers."

The Jamaican federation has also sought to keep Olympic relay champion Asafa Powell and five others off the team in a dispute over their failure to attend a training camp.

It caved in to pressure from the IAAF, which insisted the championships could not do without stars like former 100 meter world record holder Powell, Olympic 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser and Melaine Walker, the 400 hurdles gold medalist in Beijing.

Even so, the six athletes will be running with the threat of sanctions hanging over them, and as long as the doping issue surrounding five relay runners is not settled, it also will weigh on the team.

Aris hopes the negative publicity surrounding the team will motivate it.

"Sometimes out of adversity we can seize the opportunity to move faster and better," he said.

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