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Usain Bolt Experiences Unexpected, Crushing Defeat

The legendary sprinter’s record is tarnished—and it’s not even his fault

Usain Bolt is down to eight Olympic gold medals. (Photo by J. Brichto via Wikimedia Commons)

Usain Bolt’s triple-triple is no more, and it’s not even his fault.


The Jamaican sprinter and current world-record holder in the 100- and 200-meter races won three gold medals in each of the last three Summer Olympics—Beijing, London, and Rio. The medals came in the 100, 200, and 4x100 relay.

But one of Bolt’s Jamaican teammates on that first relay team tested positive for a banned stimulant, which will force Jamaica to forfeit its 2008 relay victory, according to The New York Times.

Nesta Carter’s positive result means his entire team, including Bolt, is retroactively disqualified from the event, meaning Jamaica and its athletes must return the gold medals. Carter and Bolt both were also on the gold medal-winning Jamaican 4x100 team in London, which set the current world record in the event.

Bolt already had commented to The Guardian about the possibility of losing one of his gold medals, as news of Carter’s test result spread earlier last year.

“It’s heartbreaking because over the years you’ve worked hard to accumulate gold medals and work hard to be a champion,” Bolt told the paper. “It’s just one of those things. ... If I need to give back my gold medal I’d have to give it back, it’s not a problem for me.”

For his part, Carter acknowledged taking supplements, but did not believe they contained any banned substances. The modified result means the gold medal now is awarded to Trinidad and Tobago.

It is technically possible, though unlikely, that the gold medals could be restored to the remaining members of the Jamaican team. Either way, Bolt still is considered to be possibly the greatest sprinter of all time. And he’s still so fast that a flip book barely can contain him—nor can a late-night talk-show host.

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