Powell: 'Federation must keep the sport clean'

Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell believes it is up to the federations to do their job after an alarming rise in doping cases worldwide.

Asafa Powell has a lone individual gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth World Games.   -  AP

He may be good friends with fellow Jamaican Chris Gayle but Asafa Powell, who has 98 sub-10 second timings in 100m over a 13-year long career, prefers running on the track vis-a-vis the 22-yard strip on the cricket field. Powell says he is not at all enamoured by the game that is a favourite with both Indians and West Indians.

“I tried playing cricket but gave up after about half a year, I guess the (high school) team wasn't very good. I did play football for a few years in between my school and picking up running seriously,” Powell, who is the brand ambassador for the 10th edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, said here on Friday.

The 33-year-old Powell, who has a lone individual gold (2006 CWG) and a handful of relay golds across all the major events – including the Olympics and World Championships – credited his desire to be among the best for his longevity on the track.

“You have to want to do it, you need to have the passion to do it every day. This is my job and I have to love it enough to show up at the work place every day, 11 months a year, for 13 long years,” Powell said.

The fourth fastest man in history behind compatriots Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake and American Tyson Gay, Powell insisted that the time to start grooming world-class sprinters was at childhood whereas long-distance running could be taken up later in life as well.

“I went to meet brother Donovan in Austin (Texas), put on his training gear one day and began running behind the trainees in the 400m. That was when I decided to pick up running seriously,” he said.

Having held the 100m world record for almost three long years – from June 2005 to May 2008 – Powell admitted that world athletics had changed a lot in recent years. “In Rio 100m finals, there were six runners who ran under-10. There are so many people who can run sub 10s. Sports is evolving, the athletes are getting more technical. It’s going to get better. May be we will soon have guys from India who can run sub 10s,” he added.

With a relay gold at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics, Powell admitted a swansong in 2020 was too far to think of and that he was not looking further than the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast at the moment.

Asked about the alarming rise in doping cases in athletics, Powell refrained from commenting, putting the onus on the federations instead. “The federations need to ensure that sports remain clean. It's really up to them to solve that problem. It’s not my job to say whether it is right or not,” he said.

(As appeared in sportstar.thehindu.com on November 18, 2016)