American journalist Graham Bensinger has renewed the debate about the superior abilities of Jamaican athletes including the world’s fastest man alive, Usain Bolt. The journalist recently shared on Tik Tok a preview of an interview he did with Victor Conte, founder and president of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), a California-based sports nutrition center. In the interview, Conte says he suspects that the athletic achievements of Usain Bolt and others on Jamaica’s Olympic track team can be traced to their use of illegal drugs.
What Conte Said
In the interview, dated 2017 on YouTube, Conte, who pled guilty to charges from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of developing a banned steroid with the aid of bodybuilding chemist Patrick Arnold in 2005, is asked about the likelihood that Usain Bolt used illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). He answered that he became suspicious of Bolt and the entire Jamaica Olympic team when their speed and race performance improved exponentially over a very short period. While he acknowledged Usain Bolt’s talent and admitted the sprinter probably could have broken the world record without using drugs, he also stated, “Any time you’re going from 9:79 seconds to 9:58 seconds, that’s a couple of meters here. It’s suspicious.” Conte said based his suspicions on analyses of Bolt’s races by former Russian sprint coach Remi Korchemmy, whom he called a “very scientific guy.” Korchemmy pled guilty to his involvement in the BALCO scandal and received a lifetime ban from track and field for providing athletes with PEDs in 2003 and 2004.
Conte’s Suspicions Cover the Entire Jamaican Olympic Team
Conte also cast suspicions over the entire Jamaican Olympic team by comparing pre-Olympic performances with their improved, medal-winning times. As an example, he cited Shelly-Ann Fraser’s 2007 gold medal in particular. According to Conte, Fraser’s lifetime personal best time before the Olympics was 11:35 seconds, but she ran the distance at the Games in 10:78 seconds, which he said was five meters faster and “highly suspicious.” He went on to say, “To me, when you compound that with the Jamaicans who got gold, silver, and bronze and the female 100-meter leaders – When was the last time that one small country won all three medals? So that’s highly suspicious and then you look at the other aspects, and all these other athletes. It’s all suspicious. Not to target Asafa Powell or these other guys, but the former world record holder was from Jamaica, and all of a sudden, here’s these athletes that are just BAM!” He acknowledged Jamaica’s past athletic history by stating, “They’ve always had great athletes and great sprinters,” but then added, “But not this many.”
Conte Also Criticized the Drug Testing Regime in Jamaica
Conte’s interview comments also addressed the drug testing process in small, poorer nations that compete in the Olympics compared to that in wealthier countries. Conte stated that it is easier to do drug testing in “the specific Caribbean country” in which the testers “had people that worked in connection with security and the airport,” adding that by the time a tester’s name showed up on a manifest, or by the time they had finished renting a car, the athlete has gone down “a dirt path somewhere. He’s not there,” adding that someone at the airport tipped him off. He also called into question how Jamaica tested for drugs, describing the facility where samples were tested as “basically a little storage room” without appropriate equipment or testing environment.
Conte’s Comments Are Again Enraging Jamaicans
Jamaicans took to social media to express their outrage at Conte and his suspicions in response to the repost of his interview with Bensinger. Many posters noted that Usain Bolt was one of the most tested athletes in the history of Olympic sports. Other comments were similar to “Victor Conte you have started war, it cannot rub out” and “Victor Victor if you could only hear the collected SYM from all 14 parishes in Jamaica…” Some commenters called his statements “sour grapes” from the United States, while others took issue with his opinion that a small country like Jamaica was incapable of producing so many champions: “u lost me when u said how does one small country like Jamaica gets 1,2,3. that right there says a lot about you sir” and “Jamaica might be a small country, but we do big things the whole world knows about us” and “Get used to it… more coming…the future is very bright… take a look at the U20!!!” and “Oh boy! Somebody needs to let them know that Jamaicans are naturally talented in track and field. I wish they would test all these American athletes.” And finally, “Jamaica forever fast.”
Photo – Deposit Photos