Dwain Chambers

Rivals, respect: Bolt comes up big, again, in 200


BEIJING — Usain Bolt defeated Justin Gatlin in the men’s 200 Thursday night at the 2015 world track and field championships, running the best time in the world this year, 19.55 seconds, to win hands-down.

If the result of this big-time showdown had been the other way around, if Gatlin had won, would earthquakes and tsunamis roil the planet? Would sinkholes swallow up large towns? Meteors flash across the sky?

Of course not.

Gatlin finished in 19.74. Just as he did in the 100 Sunday night, Gatlin lost his form — this time, about six steps from the finish — but managed to keep it together enough for second.

Usain Bolt wins the men's 200 // Getty Images

What happened Thursday, same as Sunday, amounted to great sport and, no small thing, great theater. Bolt yet again proved his worth. And Gatlin proved he is a worthy rival.

That’s great for track and field.

Gatlin on Bolt: "I have nothing against Usain. He is a great competitor. A competitor as myself — you know, you look for that. You look to be able to get pushed to your limits, to get pushed to the best times you can run.

"At the end of the day," Gatlin continued, "when you are like 45, 50 years old, and you retire, you want to look back and say, you know what? That guy right there, you helped make history with this guy, helped push him and he pushed you to be a better athlete."

 "I have no problem with Justin Gatlin," Bolt said. "He is a competitor."

If Bolt doesn't have a problem with Gatlin, this simple question: why should anyone else?

Bolt also said of Gatlin, "He talks a lot. I have noticed over the years. But that’s just who he is. I’ve noticed that in the lead-up to a championship, he’s going to say a lot of stuff. But after the championships, he confuses you, you feel like he is your best friend."

Track and field too often can find itself in a marginalized niche, a once-every-two- or four-years-thing. The 200, and other events Thursday, offered precisely what the sport needs: big-time stars, and rivalries, and expressed respect.

Allyson Felix, for instance, moving up from the 200 to the 400, exploded from the start in Lane 6 and put on a sprinting clinic to win in 49.26, a 2015 world-best time. Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas took second in 49.67, Shericka Jackson of Jamaica third in 49.99.

The 400 victory made for the ninth world championship gold of Felix’s stellar career. Let the debate begin now in earnest about whether the schedule at next summer's Rio Olympics can be shuffled around so that she can run both the 200 and 400.

In a news conference, Felix was asked the secret not just to her success but her longevity. Simple, she said -- "to be hungry, to be passionate" about sprinting and winning.

Allyson Felix winning the 400 // Getty Images

In the triple jump, American Christian Taylor, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, set a new American record, 18.21 meters, or 59 feet, 9 inches, in a competition that -- right before the women's 400 and men's 200 -- seemingly captivated everyone at the Bird’s Nest.

That 18.21 is the second-longest jump in history. Britain’s Jonathan Edwards went 18.29, 60-0 1/4, in 1995. The American record had stood for 19 years: 18.09, 59-4 1/4, Kenny Harrison, to win Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996.

Christian Taylor after winning the triple jump // Getty Images

Second went to Cuba’s Pedro Pichardo, 17.73, 58-2.

"It was a great fight," Taylor said. "I saved it until my last jump."

The 2008 Olympic champ, Portugal’s Nelson Evora, grabbed third on his final jump, a season-best 17.52, or 57-5 3/4. The American Omar Craddock had to settle for fourth, 17.37, 57 feet even.

On Sunday in that 100, Bolt had defeated Gatlin by one-hundredth of a second in a race that far too many billed as a contest between “good” and “evil,” Bolt caricatured as “good” in this made-up morality farce, Gatlin as “evil.”

As things got underway Thursday night, Bolt, announced to a huge roar, kissed the “Jamaica” on his jersey. Gatlin made kissing motions, then “ran” with his hands, also greeted by cheers.

For all the noise about the 100, the 200 has long been Bolt’s preferred race. In Lane 6, he got out of the blocks without incident — he can be a slow starter but not Thursday — and then, coming down the stretch, powered home for the victory, the fifth-fastest 200 ever.

The last time Bolt had run a 200 under 19.6? August 23, 2012.

"The 100 is really for the people, for my coach," Bolt said, "and the 200 is for me."

Earlier this year, Gatlin had run a 19.57. But not this night.

That 19.74, however, is no small thing: it made for the second-fastest non-Bolt time ever at a world championships. The American Walter Dix ran 19.53 at the worlds in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.

Third place Thursday went to South Africa's Anaso Jobodwana. He ran a national-record 19.87.

The photo finish of the men's 200, with Usain Bolt way ahead // photo courtesy Seiko

To reiterate the obvious:

Bolt runs big on the big stage, and has ever since he burst onto the world scene here at the Bird’s Nest in those Olympics seven long years ago. But for his false start at those 2011 Daegu worlds, he has won virtually everything — 100, 200, 4x100 — at every major meet since, worlds or Olympics. (The U.S. team won the 4x100 at the World Relays this past May, Gatlin running second for the Americans, Bolt anchor for the Jamaicans.)

Bolt is also thoroughly charismatic. He has made “To Di World” a pose recognized the world over.

Bolt got tangled up with a cameraman amid the post-race festivities. No harm, no foul, he said: "I'm fine. It's all fine."

Post-race, a barefoot Bolt doing his thing // Getty Images

The two-dimensional depiction of Bolt as “good,” it must be emphasized, depends on two things:

One, that he is running clean.

The most, though, that anyone can say about Bolt that he has never tested positive.

That is a long, long way from a guarantee of anything.

To be clear, that's by way of explanation, not accusation; moreover, it must be stressed that nothing has surfaced that would link Bolt to anything undue.

That said, when it comes to the Jamaican track and field landscape, no one, least of all in the media, can be assured of any guarantees; that's too much of an ask given the structural deficiencies that have plagued the Jamaican anti-doping infrastructure, and its woeful lack of testing over the years.

The second point to consider: track and field is not, as some like the chief sports feature writer for the Daily Telegraph, the English newspaper, would have it, a moralistic reflection on athletic piety or purity.

It never has been.

The history of the ancient Olympics in Greece makes that plain.

As David Wallechinsky writes in his authoritative book on the modern Games, "The use of performance-enhancing drugs and concoctions by athletes is nothing new,” noting that the winner of the 1904 Olympic marathon, Thomas Hicks, an English-born brass worker from Cambridge, Massachusetts, “was administered multiple doses of strychnine and brandy during the race.”

Fast forward to Ben Johnson in Seoul, in 1988.

And the BALCO scandal in the United States some 12 years ago.

And allegations now about blood doping in countries around the world.

Track and field, like any enterprise, has its good points — its very, very good points, indeed — and some not so good.

This, then, is what follows logically:

Things in track and field, as in all spheres in life, are not simply susceptible to a reduction of good and bad, black and white, yes or no.

If Bolt can be depicted as a hero — have at it, if you want to.

The same, though, for Gatlin — for years, he has been a study in humility and courage, working his way back from the embarrassment and shame, indeed the mortification, of two doping positives.

Redemption is just as powerful a lesson as anything, and for anyone. Who goes through life without mistakes?

Gatlin’s agent, Renaldo Nehemiah, told the BBC,  “He has humbled himself for months and months. It was never widely reported so people don't believe he has made amends or apologized."

Late Thursday, Nehemiah in an interview, said, "Consider the woman who’s afraid the man who’s coming home is going to beat her -- she's reading all this, realizing [Gatlin] is a fighter, he’s standing tall.

"That’s where the lessons can be learned. There are so many people who can look at this and say, wow, this guy has persevered through relentless criticism -- criticism that was heaped on him unfairly."

To carry the inquiry further — if Bolt is the “saviour of the sport,” as the British track and field Athletics Weekly blared in its front-page headline after the 100, what would have been the case had Gatlin prevailed Thursday night? Would Bolt personally be to blame for any and all ills the sport might confront?

Of course not. This is why the entire construct is not just completely absurd and over-the-top ridiculous but entirely unfair — to Bolt, to Gatlin and, moreover, anyone.

Further, what gets lost in the depiction of Bolt as “good” or Gatlin as “evil” is elemental: facts.

And with facts come context.

And nuance.

In the real world, these things matter.

Anyone in the public eye deserve these things, at the very least.

Gatlin’s first positive test came in 2001, when he was 19, for prescription medicine he was taking for attention-deficit disorder.

As for the second, a testosterone pop in 2006, it makes much more sense upon a read of the record — all of which is publicly available in a federal courthouse in Pensacola, Florida — to infer that the positive test may well have resulted from a shot or a pill, administered by assistant coach Randall Evans, the injection witnessed in person by coach Trevor Graham.

Graham is of course one of the central figures in the BALCO case.

There is no support in the record for the assertion that a massage therapist rubbed steroid cream on Gatlin. That theory, according to the documents, came from Graham.

Facts. They really matter, or at least you’d like to think so.

In that same column in the Telegraph, written by the paper’s chief sports feature writer, under a headline that declares Gatlin is a “bothersome impediment to athletics’ rehabilitation in the eyes of a jaded public” — absolutely not one bit of which is supported by any factual assertion — the column declares about Gatlin, “He has not had to reimburse any of the money that he earned during the time when he was found to have doped.”

Nehemiah, Sunday night, under the Bird’s Nest: “He never stole any money. When he got banned, he never ran another race.”

The set-up to that line about Gatlin’s finances, again from the Telegraph column: “What exactly constitutes payback in his case?” Then, after the line about reimbursement: “The damage he has suffered is purely reputational. This, when it comes to administering any kind of potent deterrent to dopers, is not enough.”

In Gatlin’s 2007 hearing stemming from the 2006 test, Nehemiah would testify that the second test cost Gatlin “5, 6 million dollars.” Gatlin, Nehemiah said, had grossed $1.549 million in 2005; projections in 2006 alone, the agent said, were for “anywhere from $2.5 to $3 million.”

As for payback?

Why is any sort of “payback” a thing? Payback does not equal deterrence. That is simply illogical, it being a maxim of legal theory that sanctions exist for four purposes: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation.

Payback is not making someone a villain because it suits an easy narrative. That’s grossly unfair.

At any rate, you want deterrence?

Five to six million dollars and four years out, humbling yourself by teaching 8-year-olds in and around Atlanta how to run — that’s powerful deterrence.

You know what else is important in reporting about these kinds of things? Consistency.

Another high-profile sprinter who got busted in the BALCO scandal, as all familiar with track and field would know: the British star Dwain Chambers.

After a lot of legal to and fro, Chambers was ultimately cleared again to run.

Earlier this year, the Telegraph included Gatlin on a list of what it called “the most hated sportsmen in the world,” a “sport-by-sport breakdown of the most loathsome individuals.”

Indeed, in the piece published Wednesday: "Any drugs cheats who decide to revive their careers must accept that it is their lot to endure a reception rife with suspicion and innuendo."

Here, just last year, after he won the British 100 meter championship, was this same newspaper, a different reporter at the byline, hero-making on Chambers:

“After the athletics season last year Chambers climbed Mont Blanc in support of the charity Teens Unite and he revealed the experience had given him the mental strength to keeping racing. ‘I’ve climbed many mountains, haven’t I? And fallen down a few,’ he said. ‘But I still keep standing. Climbing that mountain was for a different cause, but it showed me a lot about myself. That was a lot of pressure. I was scared, because any false slip I was a goner. I had to keep my wits about me. But doing that made me believe and understand that I can do anything.

‘I was totally out of my comfort zone, walking 250 [meters] up an hour. It normally takes me about 25 seconds to do that. But it was a real test of character for me and it’s given me the ability to still come out here and compete.’ "

Even more, last August from the European track and field championships in Zurich, here was the writer now designated the chief sports feature writer, after first describing Chambers as “avowedly reformed and ever-complex”:

“Once ostracized, Chambers has been accepted back into the fold due to the apparent sincerity of his contrition.”

Fair is, you know, fair.

Recognizing what he was up against coming into this meet, Gatlin acknowledged late Thursday, "It was never my intent to come to these championships and and try win over any fans or change the view of who I am. My intent was to come here and compete to the best of my abilities. That's what my job is.

"I think the people saw a different view of me: you know, I'm just a competitor, man. I have no ill will toward Usain, no ill will towards anybody. We have all worked very, very hard all season long, just trying to stay away from injury. And just get out there and run 9 seconds, run 19 seconds, and get on that podium. Mission accomplished.

"I came out of here with some hardware," he said. Now it's time "to get ready for the 4x100 and get ready for Rio."

Where Bolt and Gatlin, all things being equal, get to go at each other again. It's all good.

The BOA's slam-dunk loser of a case

Rarely in my sportswriting life do I acknowledge that I not only have been to law school (the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco) but passed the California Bar Exam (first try, thank you). Any first-year law student could have told you the outcome before it was issued Monday by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of the British Olympic Assn.'s "lifetime" ban against dopers.

They could have told you the outcome because the BOA was dead wrong and its full-throated defense of the ban off-base, and that's what a three-member CAS panel unanimously ruled.

Lawyers and tribunals are not often given to such plain-spoken language. They teach you in law school that it's best to avoid such talk.

Nor, for that matter, does it out-and-out call the case, brought by a defiant BOA after being declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency rules, a thorough and complete waste of time, money and energy that proved a point that in the first instance was thoroughly obvious.

The reason they don't teach you that in law school is because that's what journalism school is for.

Another thing they teach you in journalism school is to identify the instant winners in court cases.

Here, that's easy:

Dwain Chambers, for one. The British sprinter was the first athlete to test positive for the designer steroid THG in 2003 amid the BALCO scandal. He received the mandatory two-year ban from running track; the BOA also imposed its lifetime Olympic ban.

Since returning to the track, Chambers has won the 2010 world indoor sprint title; he is the 2012 world indoor sprint bronze medalist.

There are some who think Chambers is still a cheat and doesn't belong at the Olympics.

Like Dai Greene, the British 400-meter world champion. He told the Daily Mail, the British newspaper, "Like Dwain Chambers as a person but he knowingly broke the rules and he should be made to pay. We should not soften the punishments. This will not help to rid our sport of drugs. Think of the messages this is sending to doping cheats and to those thinking of traveling down that risky route."

Dai Greene is of course entitled to his opinion. He's also entitled to be wrong.

This space has been aggressive in calling for track and field to rid itself of doping. It is perhaps the most egregious problem the sport faces. But Chambers has not only been made to pay in serving his time, he has been fully and completely forthcoming not only about what he did, but about how and why.

That is how you earn a shot at redemption. Maybe Dwain Chambers earns a medal or more in London. Maybe not. But he deserves every chance to try.

Moreover, you don't think the doping authorities learn real-world stuff from a guy like Chambers?

Victor Conte, the man at the center of the BALCO scandal, issued a statement a few days ago that said of Chambers, "He trusted me like a father and I will forever be remorseful regarding the pain and suffering that I caused him and his entire family. Dwain has been punished in many ways over the last nine years and yet he has somehow found forgiveness in his heart for me.

"… Dwain has rebounded from the serious mistakes he made to become a man of strong moral character. Those who know him as I do have enormous respect and admiration for his distinct ability to overcome adversity."

As Usain Bolt's coach, Glen Mills, put it in a conference call last week with reporters: "I don't believe that somebody should be sentenced to death or banned for life. They should be given an opportunity to redeem himself."

Meanwhile, the potential big-time loser:

Colin Moynihan, the chairman of the BOA. There's a way to argue, and style points matter if one might want to keep advancing one's career in international sport.

Last November, Moynihan said the World Anti-Doping Agency had "failed to catch the major drug cheats of our time," and in calling for an "informed review" of the global body, said "Regrettably, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the 10 years since its creation, WADA has been unable to achieve its own, well-intentioned objectives."

Typically, that's not the way to get ahead, especially with the International Olympic Committee.

Just to make sure there was no misunderstanding, the CAS panel on Monday ordered the BOA to pay some of WADA's legal costs. Again, it didn't say the case was a complete and total waste of time. But pretty close. it went so far as to say that the matter was "unnecessarily increased by the voluminous and largely irrelevant submissions and evidence submitted by the BOA on this appeal."

WADA, after Monday's ruling, issued its own statement that said it "regrets the many hysterical and inaccurate statements from the BOA in the course of challenging the WADA decision," adding a few paragraphs later, rules "are not based on emotive arguments or the wishes of any one signatory or," for emphasis, "individual."

The underlying question is why this case ever got to this point.

For one, if the BOA was non-compliant, why -- in the build-up to a home Olympics -- divert time and money on litigation? Everyone knows litigation is adversarial. Why be so confrontational? To reiterate, surely that reflects leadership style.

For another, all you had to do was read the ruling issued last Oct. 6 by the very same three-member panel in the case of American 400-meter runner LaShawn Merritt.

In that instance, the panel ruled "invalid and unenforceable" the IOC's Rule 45, which sought to ban any athlete hit with a doping-related suspension of more than six months from competing in the next Summer or Winter Games.

Why did it so rule?

Because the WADA code is the controlling policy.

If the IOC had wanted to enact that kind of extra sanction, the way to do it would have been to seek an amendment to the WADA code. The IOC didn't do so, and thus the "six-month rule" was blatantly a dud.

Same goes here.

The BOA is a signer to the WADA code. The BOA couldn't have one rule and everybody else have another. Its lifetime ban was out of "harmony," to use the legal terminology, with the rest of the world. The BOA rule thus could not stand.

To return to square one: why, then, was the BOA only too happy to see this case end up before CAS?

Assuming people act logically, did the logic tree work like this:

The BOA got to argue the case, not only before CAS but in the newspapers, and preach that it was occupying the moral high ground …

And now, having been shot down, it gets to send the likes of Chambers, and cyclist David Millar (who admitted to using the blood-booster EPO in the wake of a French polce investigation) to the Olympics …

Where if these world-class athletes win medals, those medals add to the home-team count …

In which case this whole thing was -- for the BOA itself and the British team -- a no-lose proposition from the get-go, right?

Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

That's the thing about law school. They teach you there that in the search for clarity you often learn that life is -- and the means and method of motive are -- mysterious, indeed.

Usain Bolt awaits

DAEGU, South Korea -- American Walter Dix, running in sunglasses at night, was so in command and control that he could look left and right as he cruised down Lane 2 to a strong and easy victory Saturday night in his heat of the men's 100-meter dash. He said afterward that he had come to Daegu "to win three gold medals," in the 100, the 200 and the relays. In his heat, another American, Justin Gatlin shook off freezer burn around his ankles to earn an automatic qualifier spot. He declared afterward that Sunday night's 100 final would "probably be one of the most epic world championship we have ever seen."

Confidence is of course a good thing when you have to run against Usain Bolt.

The issue is whether confidence, or anything, matters.

The 2011 version of Bolt is not 2009 or, for that matter, 2008. Even so, the Bolt who was on display Saturday night looked lethal enough. He ran the night's fastest time, 10.10 seconds, and did so though he jogged the final 50 meters.

The men's 100 heats capped a thoroughly full first day here at the world track championships that also saw Americans Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee standing 1-2 halfway through the decathlon, Eaton with 4446 points, Hardee with 4393.

In other performances:

-- All four American women moved through to the next rounds of the 400, led by  Sanya Richards-Ross, in 51.37, and Allyson Felix, in 51.45.

"I feel really healthy, the best I've felt in a long time," Richards-Ross, the defending world champion, said.

"I felt controlled," Felix said of the first race in her 200/400 double. "I wanted to establish a fast 150, then go from there. It was a little bit quicker than what I hoped for but I wanted to make it as easy as possible. I feel good, and excited to get started."

-- Britain's Christine Ohuruogu, the 2008 Beijing gold medalist and 2007 world champion in the 400, false-started and was disqualified. She sat on the stairs leading down into the alley called the "mixed zone," where athletes meet the press, for nearly 20 minutes. She just sat there, in disbelief.

When she came through the zone, she said, "I'm broken. You can all see I'm broken. I have nothing else to say. I false-started. I have worked really hard. I came here. I false started."

-- Incredibly, Kenyan women swept the medals, six-for-six, in the marathon and 10,000 meters.

Edna Kiplagat, who had won the New York marathon last fall, won here in 2:28.43. Priscah Jeptoo took second, Sharon Cherop third.

No nation had ever swept the medals at a worlds or Olympics.

Prior to the Kenyan finish in that marathon, none had even managed a 1-2 finish.

Then came the 10k.

The Kenyans didn't just go 1-2-3.

They went 1-2-3-4:

Vivian Cheruiyot won in 30:48.98, a personal best, followed by Sally Kipyego, then by defending champion Linet Masai. Priscah Cherono finished fourth. Ethiopia's Meselech Melkamu, the African record-holder, took fifth.

All of that, and then came the men's 100 heats.

Jamaican Asafa Powell is not here, purportedly with a groin injury. American Tyson Gay is hurt. Further, American Mike Rodgers and Jamaican Steve Mullings are out because of doping-related issues. The field isn't what it could be.

"Epic" remains to be seen.

Dix, it must be said, looked solid, in 10.25. He said, "I wanted to come out of the blocks well so I could finish easily. That was a great race for me," and it was.

Bolt, it must also be said, remains Bolt.

Dix raced in Heat 2, Bolt in 6.

Before Bolt lined up in Lane 4, he pretended to brush back his hair in an imaginary mirror, to make himself prettier for the cameras. He shot both index fingers as if they were guns. He smoothed his hair back again.

He settled his silver shoes into the blocks, his sponsor logo trimmed in gold. The gun went off, he exploded out and, essentially, the race was over.

Dwain Chambers, over in Lane 8, who came in second in that heat, in 10.28, was asked later if he thought Bolt might be vulnerable.

He said, "I don't think so."

Track needs rivalries -- but now no Bolt v. Gay

Perhaps more than anything, track and field needs rivalries, and when Tyson Gay pulled himself out of the men's 100-meter dash Friday evening at the U.S. track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., it signaled yet another serious blow to the sport's effort to become anything but increasingly marginal. It is no fun to write such things.

Here's how much I like track and field: My wife and two daughters were out of town. The son was over at a friend's for the evening. I had the house all to myself. What did I do? I was one of precisely 3,067 people nationwide enduring the online live-stream of the field events while simultaneously checking the as-they-happened results from the sprints on another website -- which inexplicably were being held back for showing later on ESPN.

Earlier this month, after the Prefontaine Classic, I wrote a column that essentially said track was going nowhere fast in the United States. I proposed some suggestions for change. LetsRun.com, among others, linked to my column; the message boards there picked it up, one of the posters declaring I was an idiot.

Maybe. But that's why I have two dogs. They don't care.

Possibly, though, after more than 10 years of covering track and field, I have picked up a few things.


Unless and until someone else runs in the 9.6s, as Tyson Gay did, Usain Bolt stands alone in the sprints.

That's not healthy.

It's not healthy for Bolt and it's not healthy for track and field.

Obviously, Gay's problem is in fact his health -- now his hip. Frankly, he has had such a succession of injuries over the past few years that it's not clear, really, whether he can get it back together in time for the Olympics next year.

Where does that leave the state of the sport?

It's far from improbable that the Jamaicans take the top-three spots at the 100 at the world championships late this summer at Daegu, South Korea.

Good for Jamaica, maybe.

Good for track? Uh, no.

Again, the sport needs rivalries, and in particular in its marquee event, the men's 100.

None of the Americans is even within shouting distance of Bolt right now.

Walter Dix, who won the U.S. title on Friday in 9.94, is a really good sprinter, the bronze medalist in both the 100 and 200 in Beijing. His personal best in the 100 is 9.88; problem is, that's a full three-tenths of a second behind Bolt's world-record 9.58.

Michael Rodgers, the 2009 U.S. national champion, ran 9.99 Friday to earn the third U.S. slot at the 2011 worlds. His personal best is a 9.85, at the Pre three weeks ago.

The guy who finished second Friday in Eugene, Justin Gatlin, in 9.95, is of course the 2004 Olympic champion. He is back from a four-year doping ban.

Gatlin has every right to run. He has served his time.

But meet promoters in Europe have made it plain he's still not welcome there. And his appearance in Daegu, wearing red, white and blue with "USA" on it -- which, again, he has earned -- is guaranteed to spark a rash of stories in the feral British press and elsewhere that will a) compare his case with that of Dwain Chambers, b) with that of Marion Jones, c) rewind the Trevor Graham saga, and d) remind one and all that the U.S. track scene suffered for years from doping and wonder if the current crop of athletes, despite well-known advances in testing, can be said to be competing cleanly.

To the dismay of USA Track & Field, it will be no great surprise if one or more stories manages to wrap in e) all of the above.

Track needs to move out of precisely that morass.

Maybe Bolt can run even faster than 9.58.

But he doesn't seem in 2011 to be building toward a lightning strike the way he was in 2009 and 2008; his early-season times in those years were far more suggestive than this year's.

Beyond which -- he simply can not do everything for the sport all by himself. Nor should he be expected to do so.

He needs a rival.

Especially in the United States. Now, though, Bolt v. Gay, the sort of thing that might have gotten track onto the JumboTrons at football stadiums -- just the way Michael Phelps' swim races were shown on those big screens -- is gone for 2011.

It might even be gone for 2012.

And track and field is left to be -- what? Except for one week every four years at the Olympic Games, when it rocks, what then?