Sprint king Usain Bolt has lost the distinction of his career-defining “triple triple” after the Jamaican was ordered to return one of his nine Olympic gold medals.
The world’s fastest man has been stripped of the 4 x 100m relay gold he won at the Beijing Games in 2008 after team-mate Nesta Carter’s sample was belatedly found to contain a banned substance.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) re-tested more than 450 samples from Beijing earlier this year and confirmed on Wednesday that Carter’s contained traces of the stimulant methylhexaneamine.
Bolt said in June, after it emerged that Carter’s A sample had tested positive, that it would be “heartbreaking” to have the result chalked off, although he added: “If I need to give back my gold medal I’d have to give it back – it’s not a problem for me.”
The 30-year-old underlined his status as one of athletics’ all-time greats by completing the triple triple – a hat-trick of sprint golds for the third Olympics in succession – in Rio last summer.
He, Carter and team-mates Asafa Powell and Michael Frater must now hand back their 2008 relay medals to the IOC. Trinidad and Tobago are in line to be promoted from silver-medal position.
Jamaica’s relay victory set a world record, which they broke in London four years later. The 2012 line-up also included Bolt and Carter, but those medals are not threatened by Wednesday’s ruling.
Bolt, who also holds the world record in 100m and 200m, is expected to bring down the curtain on his track career with a farewell performance at the World Championships in London this summer.
Methylhexaneamine is found in some dietary supplements and was reclassified as a “specified substance” – one more likely to have an innocent explanation – by anti-doping chiefs in 2011.