MIAMI, USA – Former sprint World Champion Lauryn Williams of the USA believes the prolonged backlash against Jamaica’s successful outing at the Beijing Olympic Games in August is totally unjust.
Williams, the fourth place finisher behind three Jamaican athletes in the women’s 100 metres in Beijing, said she believes the sprinters who forced her off the podium in the event and the dominance of Usain Bolt in the men’s category, were not a result of performance-enhancing drugs and vowed not to be drawn into the continuous insulting debate.
"I think the slurs about Jamaican sprinters are unfair," said Williams, who won the 2005 World Championships 100-metre title in Helsinki, Finland.
"I believe they are clean. I’m not really worrying about drug issues," she added.
"Of course, we’re working hard to make sure every country has the same testing policies, but the Jamaicans have worked really hard for what they achieved. They have been in the mix for a long time, they haven’t suddenly appeared this year," said Williams, who turned 25 years old last month.
Jamaica’s drug-testing programme has been criticised and Bolt’s rise to stardom in the 100 metres this season has raised a flurry of reaction from the track and field fraternity – including former US Olympic sprint star Carl Lewis – questioning the validity of the Jamaican sprint dominance.
But in spite of the cloud over the sport in the past few years, Williams backs the Jamaicans to be clean and thinks it is heartbreaking to know that whenever someone runs fast it rests on performance-enhancing substances.
"It’s sad that athletics is constantly dragged back to that," she said.
"Even athletes are using the drug thing as an excuse now when they get beaten. That’s not fair either," said Williams, who finished behind gold medal winner Shelly-Ann Fraser, and tied silver medallists Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson in the 100-metre final in Beijing.
"You used to just lose fair and square, now people complain about it and claim their rivals are on drugs. It isn’t a healthy environment for the athletes. I just wish we could get rid of the whole cloud we’re under at the moment."
Jamaica finished the 29th Olympiad with 11 medals, including six gold, three silver and two bronze, the best showing by the island at a Games. CMC