Denial issued on De Grasse claim

The agent who represents Canadian athlete Andre de Grasse (above) claimed he was excluded from running the 100m against Usain Bolt in Monaco yesterday. But the allegation has been denied by the event organiser and also by Bolt's management.
The agent who represents Canadian athlete Andre de Grasse (above) claimed he was excluded from running the 100m against Usain Bolt in Monaco yesterday. But the allegation has been denied by the event organiser and also by Bolt's management.

Canadian sprinter excluded over payment, not because Bolt wanted him out of Monaco

MONACO • A claim by Andre de Grasse's coach that the Canadian sprinter was barred from running the 100m against Usain Bolt last night because the Jamaican was afraid of facing him has been dismissed by the event's organiser and by Bolt's management.

Jean-Pierre Schoebel, director of the Diamond League Monaco meet, held talks with de Grasse's agent Stuart McMillan and decided against booking the runner because he did not have the budget.

"I am surprised," he said. "We don't have the budget and we stopped the discussion because we couldn't find the money, so I don't see why there is a problem now.

"(Bolt) explained that he was ready to face every athlete. But we are not able to pay every athlete."

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McMillan claimed on Thursday that de Grasse was "booted out" because Bolt wanted an easier race as he prepares to call time on his illustrious career at the World Championships in London next month.

"We were in the race. We got booted out. That's all on Bolt," McMillan was quoted as saying by CBC, the Canadian broadcaster.

"Let's just say he wanted not such an elite field against him. The fastest guy in the world gets to choose the field.

"But I don't blame him at all. This is his last year, he's only raced twice. I totally understand that he doesn't want to increase the pressure prior to the worlds by going in with a potential loss."

Bolt has raced only twice over 100m in his final season, looking sluggish in victories over weak fields in 10.03sec in Kingston, Jamaica, and 10.06sec in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Asked whether he feared anyone ahead of his last major championships, Bolt replied: "The youngsters who are coming up are doing great. But I'm never worried about any one athlete... because I know what I'm capable of."

De Grasse, who won 100m bronze and 200m silver behind Bolt at last year's Olympics, is due to run in Monaco as part of the Canadian 4x100m relay team.

The 22-year-old did a wind-assisted 9.69sec in Stockholm last month, but is yet to run a faster legal time this season than 10.01sec.

Bolt was set to face a field including South African Akani Simbine, who has broken 10 seconds eight times this year, and Chijindu Ujah, Britain's No. 1, who is one of four runners in the field to have gone under 10 seconds this year.

Also in the race is Omar McLeod, the Olympic 110m hurdles champion.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Denial issued on De Grasse claim'. Print Edition | Subscribe