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DALLAS, July 5, 2012
Olympic track legend and Laureus World Sports Academy Member Michael Johnson says Jamaica’s Usain Bolt is still favourite to win three gold medals in London, despite Yohan Blake’s victory in the 100 metres in the Jamaica Olympic Trials in Kingston last week.
Speaking in an interview with Laureus.com, Johnson says: “Yohan Blake showed he will take advantage when Bolt does not perform at his best. Bolt now has a legitimate challenger and will need to be at his best in London to defend his Olympic title.
“But I think Usain can do whatever he wants to do! He’s got that type of talent and he wants to win three gold medals again. I would say if he gets to the starting line healthy, at his best, everyone else at their best, he wins every time, I mean he’s just that good.”
Johnson, who won four Olympic gold medals at 200 metres, 400 metres and 4 x 400 metres relay, also believes Bolt could run much faster, if he improves his technique.
“He could break the world record again, he could run 9.5 secs, lower. Ultimately if he were to really be focused and committed on cleaning up his technique, he could probably run 9.4 secs, but he would have to do some major training and adjustments in the way that he runs.
“We’ve done some analysis at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in Dallas and compared to say Tyson Gay or Asafa Powell, he runs very raw. He’s not a very clean sprinter, if you look at him from a bio-mechanical standpoint. Usain Bolt could absolutely run faster, but it would take a tremendous commitment on his part to do a complete overhaul of his technique.”
Asked who would be Bolt’s main challengers in the 100 metres, Johnson says: “His training partner Yohan Blake (who beat him in Kingston), the three Americans, Tyson Gay, Walter Dix and Justin Gatlin, Christophe Lemaitre, the Frenchman, and Richard Thompson from Trinidad. Those are the guys that we will probably see in the finals, but it just sounds funny to even talk about who can stop him. Because they can only stop him if something happens to him.”
In a fascinating and wide-ranging interview, which can be read in full on www.laureus.com, Johnson, who gave up a gold medal from the 4 x 400 metres relay in Sydney after team-mate Antonio Pettigrew admitted he had used performance enhancing drugs, says he feels a two-year ban for using drugs is not enough.
He says: “Two years is not enough of a deterrent. We’ve seen that. You have people continuing to use performance enhancing drugs because you could be banned for two years and you could be back for the next Olympics. And that’s just not enough of a punishment, specifically in sports like athletics where the Olympics is really what it’s all about.
“A lifetime ban? I think everyone should be given a second chance. You have some people who will make the mistake and I think that they should be punished and I think that four years would be a more appropriate ban, I would even be willing to go with five or six years, but I think four years would be appropriate. In a sport like athletics, in particular, if you miss four years, your career’s probably over, but if you really want to try to come back and try to make things right after you’ve served your four years, I’m fine with that.”
Does Michael Johnson think we are going to have a clean Olympics in London? “It’s difficult to say. You have to look at it this way: every time someone gets caught are we happy or are we sad? Maybe both, because I’m happy they got caught, but it’s difficult for the sport.
“But we are catching people. What you have to do is have the anti-doping bodies working together to create as much of a deterrent as possible for athletes by stiffening punishments and then you also have to have them continue to be vigilant in terms of identifying the new ways that people might try to cheat and trying to just stay ahead.
“You have to also understand that you’re never going to completely eradicate performance enhancing drugs from the sport and people trying to cheat, that would be like thinking that some day we’re no longer going to have crime in society. You’re always going to have crime in society, you’re always going to have people trying to cheat.
“But you also have to understand that by and large most people in society are good people and they don’t commit crimes, it’s the same way in sports. By and large most of the people are good people and they don’t use performance enhancing drugs and try to cheat.”