Tag Archives: honourable

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Drugs in cycling: Marcel Six banned over missed test

Fresh doping woe for cycling as rider Six banned over missed drugs test

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 26 October 2012

A cyclist has been banned for 18 months for refusing to take a drugs test because he wanted to get home to his sick children.

Marcel Six, riding for the Metaltek Scott team in an event at Canary Wharf in May, told the tester that his wife was anxious about his children and this was backed up by evidence of text messages and phone calls.

An independent national anti-doping panel ruled however that 26-year-old Six was still guilty of refusing to provide a urine sample for doping control and banned him for 18 months.

Dark days: Charges against Lance Armstrong have plunged cycling into chaos

Dark days: Charges against Lance Armstrong have plunged cycling into chaos

The panel said: 'Honourable though the athlete's motives may have been, we have no hesitation in finding that his refusal was not based on any compelling justification.

'To be blunt, even if he agreed to race only at the last minute and under pressure, the fact of the matter is that, if he had time to compete in a cycle race, he had to make time to take the test.

'If, as was later the case, he wished to put his family first, then the time to do that was before he agreed to race rather than when he came to be tested.'

The panel did reduce the usual two-year ban by six months after deciding Six was able to demonstrate 'no significant fault or negligence'.

The ban comes in the wake of Lance Armstong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

The International Cycling Union accepted the findings of a United States Anti-doping Agency investigation which concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen'.

USADA stripped the 41-year-old American of all results from August 1, 1998, including his record run of Tour triumphs from 1999 to 2005, and issued him with a life ban in August, sanctions the UCI have now ratified.

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Doug Ellis backs Alex McLeish

Former Villa chief Deadly Doug backs under-fire boss McLeish

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UPDATED:

10:24 GMT, 26 April 2012

Former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis believes it would be 'foolish' for the current owner Randy Lerner to sack manager Alex McLeish.

Villa fans demanded the end of McLeish's reign after Tuesday's 2-1 home defeat by Bolton left them only three points above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

A section of supporters are intending to protest against McLeish during the final home game of the season against Tottenham on May 6.

Wait it out: Doug Ellis believes Villa's owners would be foolish to sack Alex McLeish now

Wait it out: Doug Ellis believes Villa's owners would be foolish to sack Alex McLeish now

But Ellis, who sold his controlling stake to Lerner six years ago, has backed McLeish.

Ellis told the Birmingham Mail: 'It would be foolish for McLeish to go. Despite the fact most of the fans are upset he came from Birmingham, McLeish is a good manager.

'The game is not about management, it is about players. Villa have three, four, five established first team players who are injured and we have to bring in the kids.

'But they will not go down. Villa have three more matches, a three point gap above the bottom three, a better goal difference, and need three points to be certain.'

Backed: McLeish has found a supporter

Backed: McLeish has found a supporter

Fans vented their anger against McLeish after the Bolton defeat which meant they had won just once in 13 games and intend to protest at the Spurs game.

Protest organiser Chris Hearn said: 'We want to increase the pressure on our board to act or for McLeish to do the honourable thing and walk away.

'If supporters have had enough of the direction the club is taking under McLeish, now is the time to act.'

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Davis Cup: Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming win doubles rubber against Belgium

Doubles delight as Fleming and Hutchins keep Britain's Davis Cup hopes alive

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UPDATED:

15:50 GMT, 7 April 2012

Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins kept Great Britain's hopes of Davis Cup victory over Belgium alive by coming from behind to see off Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the doubles rubber at Glasgow's Braehead Arena.

Honourable singles defeats for Josh Goodall and Dan Evans in the Europe/Africa Zone Group I tie yesterday had left Britain staring at a first defeat in six.

But, while Belgium were hot favourites to win both those matches, the reverse was true today, with Fleming and Hutchins having established themselves as one of the better doubles pairs in world tennis.

Cheer we go: Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming celebrate their doubles win over Belgium to keep Britain's hopes alive

Cheer we go: Ross Hutchins and Colin Fleming celebrate their doubles win over Belgium to keep Britain's hopes alive

They won their second ATP World Tour title together last month in Delray Beach and currently sit 10th in the tour's doubles race, where the top eight at the end of the year qualify for the Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.

In contrast, Bemelmans and Goffin had never played together before but the Belgian pair, who are both ranked in the top 150 in singles, came out firing, particularly on return.

They broke the Fleming serve in only the third game and the Anglo-Scottish pair never really threatened to recover the deficit, with 21-year-old Goffin impressing on his Davis Cup debut.

Hutchins in particular was struggling to keep his returns in court but he began to find his form in the second set and some concerted British pressure paid off with a break for 4-2.

It seemed like the greater experience and doubles prowess of the home duo had turned things in their favour but with Hutchins serving for the set the Belgians stepped up again and a return winner from Bemelmans helped them break back.

On the volley: Fleming swoops to return a stunning shot to Belgian rivals Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin

On the volley: Fleming swoops to return a stunning shot to Belgian rivals Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin

It was a set Britain really needed to win and they came up with the goods in the 12th game, breaking the Bemelmans serve to level proceedings.

Hutchins had really grown into the match and he nailed a return down the line to put Britain 4-2 ahead in the third set, and this time there was no wobble.

The Belgians were certainly not short of spirit, though, and Hutchins had to save a break point in game six of the fourth set with a gutsy volley.

Cheer we go: Fleming and Hutchins pulled the tie back to 2-1, handing Britain hope of recording an upset

Cheer we go: Fleming and Hutchins pulled the tie back to 2-1, handing Britain hope of recording an upset

Alex Kay Talks Tennis

Britain were very keen to avoid a fifth and they secured the break they craved at 4-4 to leave Hutchins serving for the match, which he managed reasonably comfortably, polishing off victory with an ace.

The pair celebrated with their now customary chest bump to make it three straight Davis Cup victories, but Britain's hopes of triumphing on Sunday remain very slim, with Goodall and Evans needing to overcome huge ranking deficits in the reverse singles.

ICC Twenty20 meeting not something to sleep through – The Top Spin

Stay awake! ICC's Twenty20 blueprint will shape the future of Test cricket

Top Spin

'Cricket's chief executives meet in Dubai' is not a headline to stimulate the juices. This partly explains why the politics of sport, with a few honourable exceptions, are reported so sketchily.

Sport is of the heart; men in suits and air-conditioned rooms are, at a pinch, of the mind. Sporting drama is the reason journalists enter the trade; boardroom manoeuvrings can leave us cold.

And yet the two-day meeting of the ICC Chief Executives' Committee (CEC) must not be allowed to vanish like some mirage in the Emirati desert.

Brave new world: The Bangladesh Premier League is just the latest T20 competition around the globe

Brave new world: The Bangladesh Premier League is just the latest T20 competition around the globe

The press release that landed on Sunday spoke so bountifully of 'strategies' that you ended up wondering whether Haroon Lorgat and friends were protesting just a bit too much.

Under the heading 'T20 strategy', we were informed that the 'CEC will hold a strategic conversation on whether the current strategies relating to T20 cricket are appropriate to best manage the balance and long term viability of all three formats of the game'.

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For more cricketing musings, please follow us on Twitter: @the_topspin

Please stay awake. This is important, perhaps even more so than the item at the top of the press release, which is the CEC's response to the Woolf Review. (A wild stab in the dark: cricket's rich and powerful will decide, on balance, that they'd rather not be any less rich and powerful.)

The clue to what Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, hopes to achieve lies in the final line of the 'T20 strategy' section, when he refers to the format's 'implications for cricket as a whole'. To which a possible retort could be: better late than never.

Balancing act; ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has to juggle Tests, ODIs and T20 in cricket's calendar

Balancing act; ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has to juggle Tests, ODIs and T20 in cricket's calendar

At this point, it's traditional for
English cricket writers to be mocked for being backward-looking. Many is
the occasion that concerns expressed about Twenty20's dominance of the
sport's landscape have been met with a 'get back to your three men and a
dog if you don't like the IPL' – as if there is black and there is
white and there is nothing in the middle.

But you can be damn sure the men who run the game would not be discussing this issue unless they were concerned about the proliferation of a form of cricket that was supposed to be a light accompaniment, not the whole three-course meal plus coffee, mints and a taxi home.

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Like so much of cricket's contemporary
discourse, the argument about Twenty20 has become polarised and
parodied: you're either with it (with 'it' often taken to mean the IPL
and the Champions League) or you're against it (which means you must be
an MCC-tie-wearing Test-match zealot).

Naturally, it's rather more complex than this. For the story of Twenty20's rise from the saviour of English domestic cricket in 2003 to the liner of rich men's pockets in 2012 is the story of cricket's identity crisis. It is the story of a sport that has lost faith in itself and is now uncertain how best to deal with that loss.

Don't, as they say, get me wrong. Twenty20 can be thrilling. It has opened the eyes of people who would never have given Test cricket the time of day. It has improved standards of fielding. In many cases, it pays the rent. But Twenty20 has become the one-night stand which, almost imperceptibly, takes over the apartment.

Of all the cricket lovers I know – and the span covers all ages and nationalities – not one has ever suggested his or her favourite form of the game is Twenty20. Most, like me, enjoy it for what it is.

In a roundabout way, this was what Lorgat was getting at in the ICC press release: 'Cricket is uniquely fortunate to boast three exciting formats at international level and we have recognised the inevitable need to strategically manage these formats for each to be successful in the long run.'

This, then, is cricket's chance to move away from the self-interest that blights the game at boardroom level. Test cricket may not be the easiest sell in the second decade of the third millennium. But without it, most of the players who earn their fortunes in Twenty20 would have no reputation to trade on.

Lorgat is spot on about making sure the three formats work together. But will the chief execs take his point Cricket will be watching this space.

THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

A shaky start for the BPL

It's not been an auspicious first year for the Bangladesh Premier League. One player reported an approach by an illegal bookmaker before the tournament had even begun, while another was called into a hearing after a man was arrested on suspicion of match-fixing.

Then we had a farce involving the identity of the semi-finalists, with the rules apparently being made up as the competition went along.

Still, at least the players are making lots of money. What's that Ah.

'The commitment was to pay us 75 per cent of the contracted amount before the end of the tournament,' said Duronto Rajshahi and Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim. 'But we haven't received anything of that sort. We got some of the money but not the said amount.'

OK, well surely the locals will have learned useful lessons from the BPL's legion of foreign mercenaries, sorry, stars

'Definitely there are good things to pick up from the foreign players,
but also there are things that have been negative that is going on,'
explained Mushfiqur. 'Whoever can get out of this with cricket in their
mind, will do good in the future.' Curiouser and curiouser…

Famous face: Pakistan star Shahid Afridi (left) reacts after taking a wicket for Dhaka Gladiators in the BPL

Famous face: Pakistan star Shahid Afridi (left) reacts after taking a wicket for Dhaka Gladiators in the BPL

Srikkanth lashes out

If, in the weirdest of parallel universes, the Top Spin were an Indian selector, we would probably from time to time lose our temper too. But Kris Srikkanth may have chosen the wrong target when he told a TV reported to 'shut up' during an impromptu press conference following the announcement that Virender Sehwag had been rested from the Asia Cup squad.

Thanks to Cricinfo, you can see the exchange here.

But it was just as notable for the kind of statements that have been giving the Indian hierarchy a questionable name ever since last year's World Cup triumph.

In England, said Srikkanth, India 'got battered a bit because of injury problems', as if it was that simple. In Australia, 'probably the batting did not click properly' (check the bowling figures, Kris: they were pretty grim too).

As for his outrage at journalists questioning the validity of a fitness bulletin, perhaps Srikkanth should have sat through last summer's tour of misinformation in England. Then he might have grasped the scepticism.

Something to smile about

Mind you, Virat Kohli can bat a bit. If you haven't seen highlights on Youtube yet of his unbeaten 133 off 86 balls in the CB Series against Sri Lanka at Hobart, you've missed a treat.

Give us a smile: India batsman Virat Kohli (left) has finally flashed his pearly whites

Give us a smile: India batsman Virat Kohli (left) has finally flashed his pearly whites

There were plenty of highlights, not least his one-man destruction of Lasith Malinga (7.4-0-96-1). But our favourite bit came when Kohli reached three figures. And smiled.

Kohli has been in danger of combining skill and scowl, talent and temper. At times, he has resembled the angriest man in world cricket, a white-van man accidentally transported to the cricket field. But here was sheer pleasure. And he looked all the better for it.

Jesse Ryder – a marked man

As sure as day/night follows day, Jesse Ryder has landed himself in a whole lot of bother again.

Which is to say he had a drink while recovering from an injury (split webbing in his hand) and failed to walk away while he and New Zealand seamer Doug Bracewell were being abused in a bar by the kind of fan who thinks public figures are not actually human beings with feelings but punch-bags for their own inadequacies.

Ryder, who last week upset Craig
McMillan for his part in a needless Twenty20 defeat against South
Africa, was promptly dropped ahead of the third one-day international,
and has since been the subject of inevitable public hand-wringing by the
great and the good of New Zealand cricket.

There's
no question he's been a naughty boy in the past. But on this occasion,
you did wonder whether the bloke deserves a break.

Swashbuckling: Jesse Ryder's (left) attacking batting has won him many fans but he has often been in trouble

Swashbuckling: Jesse Ryder's (left) attacking batting has won him many fans but he has often been in trouble

Test cricket – please give generously

We suspect you like Test cricket, which is why we suspect you'll be keen to support the making of a film called Death of a Gentleman – a documentary about the state of the five-day game involving interviews with, among others, Rahul Dravid, Steve Waugh and Haroon Lorgat, plus dawn raids on the homes of Dickie Bird and Brian Close.

The brains and brawn behind the project are Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber, perhaps known to a couple of you as the Two Chucks.

They tell me they’re running out of money. They also tell me their film’s going to be really good/save Test cricket.

If you want to know more or even help out, check out their website for some teasers or visit their funding page. You have nothing to lose but your dignity.

Rangers investigated by SFA over Hugh Adam claims

Rangers investigated by SFA over payment claims from Adam

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed they will investigate claims made by former Rangers director Hugh Adam that payments made to players were not disclosed to the football governing body.

Adam claimed in a newspaper story on Friday that some payments had been excluded from contracts lodged with the SFA.

The SFA are already conducting an independent enquiry into the activities of Rangers and whether there have been any potential breaches of their articles of association.

Testing times: Rangers manager Ally McCoist

Testing times: Rangers manager Ally McCoist

That was announced on February 17 – three days after the Scottish champions were forced into administration.

The SFA said at the time attempts to obtain information relating to their 'fit and proper person' requirement – regarding owner Craig Whyte – had been restricted by the club solicitors' failure to share information.

And in a statement, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan provided an update on the progress of the inquiry, chaired by Lord Nimmo Smith.

He said: 'We are now in the final stages of our independent inquiry into the situation concerning Rangers FC.

'The report by The Right Honourable Lord Nimmo Smith is expected to be completed next week and will go to a Special Board Meeting for consideration.

Bleak future: The Ibrox club are battling for survival

Bleak future: The Ibrox club are battling for survival

'It would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this stage in relation to the details gleaned from the inquiry, the potential contents of the report or any possible sanctions.

'We are, however, aware of the most recent allegations made against Rangers FC today by a former director of the club.

'We shall investigate this matter thoroughly before making any further comment.'

Rangers are awaiting the verdict of a tax tribunal which could cost the club around 49million if they lose the case.

The HMRC case centres around the use of employee benefits trusts (EBTs) which were in place before Whyte took over from Sir David Murray as owner last May.

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LONDON 2012: Usain Bolt will run 9.40 seconds

He's stopped partying, he's training hard, and now my boy Usain is ready to run 9.40

The phone rang and the voice said: 'Hello.' 'Who's that' I asked. 'It's Usain.' It was a nice call to take on any blue-sky Sunday in Jamaica, but especially helpful when you are trying to piece together a picture of the man.

I had been put in touch with Usain – more formally The Honourable Usain St Leo Bolt OJ, CD – by one of his father figures, Clive Campbell, known to most people as 'Busy'.

On track: Jonathan McEvoy, Olympics Correspondent, tracks down the fastest man on the planet

On track: Jonathan McEvoy, Olympics Correspondent, tracks down the fastest man on the planet

A businessman and fund-raiser, Campbell had got to know Bolt around the time the young sprinter was first making trips from his little home parish of Trelawny to train and compete in Kingston.

On that four-hour drive his long legs were cramped, his body squeezed and his arms crossed in sweaty, sardine-can discomfort. So 'Busy' arranged instead for Bolt to fly on the 19-seater Air Jamaica Express from nearby Montego Bay.

Up in lights: Bolt poses after breaking the world record by running the 100 metres in 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships

Up in lights: Bolt poses after breaking the world record by running the 100 metres in 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships

Bolt, now 25, has since moved to the capital. Black-and-white gates guard his house at Norbrook Terrace, nestled at the end of a little street in a wealthy suburb on a hilly edge of Kingston. But back to that conversation with Usain.

On the move: Jonathan McEvoy speaks to Bolt

On the move: Jonathan McEvoy speaks to Bolt

'I believe you want to speak to me,' he said. 'Oh, yes,' I said, from Trelawny where we were visiting his mum and dad, his old school and past friends to build up a complete picture.

'No problem,' he said. 'Let me know when you're back from the country, ring Busy and come round.'

We travelled back and waited by the pool at our downtown hotel, the Wyndham. When would Busy call with the invitation

The hours ticked by. This being Jamaica, time-keeping is low priority, but, by midnight, we admitted that the chances of a call were receding. Busy came through with an update.

'I have rung his house and his brother says the boy has gone out for the night. He doesn't know where, but he's left his phone at home.'

I can take a hint when I hear one. It seems that Bolt's management had intervened. Simply, there is an industry around Bolt and he does as he is told.

For all the cavorting, smiling, bow-and-arrow-firing, jigging, prancing showman we see, a picture emerges of a man beholden to his retinue, and protected by them.

There is his coach of seven years, Glen Mills, an avuncular figure with a natural wisdom and authority, and a voice like Michael Holding's, only richer. I suspect he is the ultimate arbiter of what Bolt does and does not do.

Salute: Usain Bolt wins 2008 200m gold in Beijing, and (below) father Gideon copies his lightning bolt pose

Salute: Usain Bolt wins 2008 200m gold in Beijing, and (below) father
Gideon copies his lightning bolt pose

Gideon copies Bolt's pose

Living at Bolt's house is his half-brother Sadiki Runako Bolt. Also there is his best friend from school, Nugent Walker Junior, known as NJ, who might be described as his Man Friday. The next morning, for example, NJ drove Bolt to the gym in a big black Range Rover, one of six flash cars parked on the drive.

Also big in shaping Bolt's life are his manager Norman Peart and a part-time publicist called Carole Beckford. Back in London looking after his affairs is Ricky Simms. All are ultra-guarded about their man.

I did finally manage to speak to Bolt briefly the next morning before and after his weight session at the downtown Spartan Health Club.

Home sweet home: The Bolts still live in the Coxheath house where Usain was born

Home sweet home: The Bolts still live in the Coxheath house where Usain was born

He said nothing more revealing than that training was going well, and indeed, the word on the street is that Bolt is now being a good boy.

'He was out dancing and enjoying himself last year,' one observer told me. 'If he is out, he is seen. Everyone gets to hear when he's partying. Now he's not doing that. No way.'

During my stay on the island, a Bob Marley memorial concert took place – the Marley sons starred – but Bolt was nowhere to be seen.

Learning curve: Bolt won a sports scholarship to William Knibb High School

Learning curve: Bolt won a sports
scholarship to William Knibb High School

Back in Trelawny we visited his father Wellesley, known as Gideon. His son is the most important sprinter since Jesse Owens but, with an estimated fortune of 20million, far richer. Yet Gideon, as we joined him, was serving cuts of chicken and pork out of a window little bigger than a chessboard in his grocer's shop.Gideon is tall and talkative. You can see the gene pool at work.

He was warned we were on the way to see him and instructed by Bolt's management not to speak to us. He declined a full interview but agreed to chat.

'I've not seen him like this before,' said Gideon, a schoolboy 200m and 400m sprinter. 'He's in more serious training than I've ever seen. He was last over here in December. He's just training. He's so focused.

On track: He ran his first race on a field in front of the Waldensia Primary School

On track: He ran his first race on a field
in front of the Waldensia Primary School

'Some of his rivals, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay, have got to train too hard to keep up with him. But Usain is training with Yohan Blake (world 100m champion) and he is pushing him on. He'll be looking to run 9.4 seconds or something like that in London.'

Steady on! Bolt's 100m world record is 9.58sec. He is on record as saying that he believes 9.4sec is as fast as the human body can run.

Just a short sprint up the road – on a raked terrain perfect for developing leg muscles – lies the Bolt house in Coxheath.

He'll be looking to run 9.4 seconds or something like that in London

As a boy Usain would play cricket there, the stumps cut from a banana tree. His mother, a lovely lady called Jennifer, or Jen-Jen to friends, met us. She was in a tracksuit of grey and pink made by Bolt's sponsors Puma. She said she felt too underdressed to be photographed. She was reluctant to break the management-imposed omerta but did tell us: 'A lot of fan mail comes here from around the world. I pass it on to Usain. He signs it and I send it back.'

The house is the very one into which Bolt was born. It is painted in Jamaican colours – green, yellow and black – rather than pink, lime and white. The garden is more landscaped than in old pictures.

'We have made some improvements but we have not moved,' said Gideon. 'I don't want to. I like life here.'

Just down the road lies Aunty Lilly's house. A lad who said his brother was at school with Bolt walks by. We see Piedmont Basic – a scout hut to us but a school refurbished, according to the sign, 'via liaison with Usain Bolt, past student' – and Waldensia Primary, with its wooden desks and chairs.

Enlarge

The usual suspects

In front of it, a ploughed field-cum-recreation ground marks the plot where the fastest man in history first raced. A five-mile taxi ride away is William Knibb High School.

Bolt won a sports scholarship there but often bunked training to play computer games with friends Pete and Nimrod. Father did not approve.

Now the role of disciplinarian falls to Mills, a man whose big build lends him gravitas. I joined him at the University of the West Indies' Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Ground. It was 6.30am and Bolt was again absent that day.

'He doesn't train in the morning,' said Mills. A few days later, coincidentally or not, Bolt left Jamaica to see his doctor in Munich, Hans Muller-Wohlfart, despite his camp saying only hours earlier he was going to run in the Camperdown Classic in Kingston.

Injured No, insisted Mills. Bolt's protectors were angry at a story we carried reporting his 'unexpected' trip to Germany and saying it had 'interrupted' his Olympic preparations.

Then Bolt pulled out of another Jamaican meet last weekend. A statement from his people read: 'Due to Usain's unscheduled trip (to Germany), which resulted in training disruption, coach Glen Mills has decided that Usain will not take part in the Gibson Relays.'

Mills granted a rare interview while I was over in Kingston, partly to shield Bolt from being quoted directly. Baptised into the Pentecostal church, the coach told me that he occasionally takes Bolt to services and how he would 'love' him to submit to the same religious immersion.

He explained the phenomenon of Jamaican sprinting – how the islanders' natural physique and passion for track and field helped – pointing to the roster of Jamaican Olympic champions from the last century: Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, Don Quarrie and Merlene Ottey.

Never, though, has Jamaica been so blessed as now with stars such as Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Pryce, Powell and, of course, Bolt, who trains with the exceptional 22-year-old Blake.

Mills attributes their astonishing success to the fact that Jamaicans now stay in the country rather than take up scholarships at American colleges, where immediate results are put ahead of long-term development.

Mills' own Racers Track Club and the work of another leading coach, Stephen Francis, are part of the blueprint. But what of the comments made by Carl Lewis, the great American sprinter, about the possibility of Jamaican drug abuse

'If you don't ask the question you are a fool,' said Lewis. Mills snorted. 'Maybe track and field has contributed to that scepticism because of a number of outstanding athletes who have tested positive,' he said.

'It casts doubt on anybody who runs fast. But it is not the only thing that makes people run fast. Hard work and ability get the job done. If you say that Jamaicans are on drugs because they run fast, it is a witch-hunt.'

Remember, though, Pryce's six-month suspension for taking a banned substance for toothache. And Blake's three-month ban for taking a drug similar to one on the prohibited list.

'The point,' said Mills, 'is that you have to draw a distinct line between a person who inadvertently finds something in their system, a stimulant or whatever, that is widespread in over-the-counter supplements or cough medicines – as opposed to someone who is on a deliberate drugs programme. I have no tolerance for that.'

But he does indulge the nonchalance that comes with Bolt's genius, neither acting as his chaperone on nights out nor demanding that he drops those dazzling mid-race celebrations.

'If he has time to celebrate like that during the Olympic final he will have run an exceptional race,' reasoned Mills.

'I believe he drinks but lives within the context of being an athlete.'

It sounded like the protective arm that shields Usain Bolt, the part-time extrovert, from the world.