Jamaican athletics chiefs have risked the wrath of Usain Bolt after voting to lift the international ban on Russia.
After Russia’s head of athletics issued a public apology to those cheated by dopers at the IAAF congress in London, 166 member federations chose to back a resolution from its council to maintain the ban. However, Jamaica was the highest profile of the 21 dissenting nations.
The vote came two days after Bolt had warned that the sport will die if doping continues. Last year Bolt dubbed the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) “ridiculous” for abstaining from a vote to push through Lord Coe’s far-reaching reform package. “Why would we not support it?” he said.
Coe said yesterday that he could not answer for the JAAA but added: “There are those who do not agree with the process we have adopted.”
Dmitry Shlyakhtin, the president of Russian Athletics, earlier issued the most candid apology yet for the Russia’s doping past. “I would like to apologize to all athletes who had gold and silver medals snatched from them,” he said. “This will never happen again. I would like to bring my apologies to the athletes whose victories were stolen in a dishonest way, but the truth has triumphed and clean athletes should know that we value their victories.”
Russian athletes have been banned since November 2015, but 19 athletes will compete in London as neutrals after being independently vetted.
Coe confessed that Bolt, the 100m and 200m world record-holder, would leave a huge void when he retires after the championships. “The guy has been a sensation,” Coe said. “He has a personality.”