LONDON – No respect … that’s what Usain Bolt has for Carl Lewis.
The reigning 100- and 200-meter Olympic gold medalist blasted Lewis in his press conference Thursday, ripping the former U.S. champion for remarks Lewis has made about the Jamaican team and doping in track.
"I'm going to say something controversial. Carl Lewis – I have no respect for him," Bolt said. "The things he says about the track athletes are very downgrading. I think he's just looking for attention, because nobody really talks about him. I've lost all respect for him. All respect."
Asked why he had such a negative opinion of Lewis, Bolt cited remarks by the five-time U.S. Olympian.
"All the drug stuff,"Bolt said. "For an athlete to be out of the sport and to be saying that is really upsetting."
Earlier in the same press conference, a U.S. reporter began to ask Bolt a doping question about the Jamaican track team and erroneously referred to it as "the Jamaican drug team." The reporter then quickly corrected himself and asked if the public could believe the Jamaicans were a clean team.
"Without a doubt," Bolt said, gesturing to his teammates Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, who captured silver and bronze in Thursday’s 200 meters. "These guys train hard."
At one point during the press conference – before his remarks about Lewis – Bolt was asked who he would rather be if he had the choice, Lewis or Jesse Owens. Bolt said Owens, remarking that he had a great deal of respect for the U.S. Olympic icon.
Lewis has been consistently critical with his questions about the current state of track and field as well as the dominance of the Jamaicans. Less than one month after Bolt set world records in the 100 and 200 meters in Beijing, the nine-time Olympic gold medalist didn’t hide his suspicions in an interview with London’s Daily Telegraph.
"No one is accusing anyone," Lewis told the Telegraph. "But don't live by a different rule and expect the same kind of respect. They [Jamaican track officials] say, 'Oh, we've been great for the sport.' No, you have not. No country has had that kind of dominance. I'm not saying they've done anything for certain. I don't know. But how dare anybody feel that there shouldn't be scrutiny, especially in our sport?
"The reality is that if I were running now, and had the performances I had in my past, I would expect [doping critics] to say something. I wouldn't even be offended at the question. So when people ask me about Bolt, I say he could be the greatest athlete of all time. But for someone to run 10.03 one year and 9.69 the next, if you don't question that in a sport that has the reputation it has right now, you're a fool. Period."
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