Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs has furiously denied doping allegations and claimed his gold medal was won with “blood, sweat, tears and injuries.”
Jacobs, 27, shocked the world in Tokyo last summer when he took the title from America’s Fred Kerley by clocking 9.80 seconds.
His time represented a new Italian record and the third occasion during the Games where he had broken the 10-second barrier, having only done so once previously.
He later notched an historic double by helping the Italian team to gold in the 4x100m relay and was duly chosen to carry his country’s flag at the closing ceremony.
But adulation from his homeland was negated by skepticism elsewhere, especially when Jacobs announced he would be ending his season immediately after Tokyo.
Japan wasn’t the only time that the sprinter had been perceived to have over-performed last year, also taking the European indoor title in Torun in a personal best of 6.47 seconds.
Perception was further plagued following the Olympics when Jacobs’ former nutritional advisor, Giacomo Spazzini, was held in a police investigation dubbed ‘Operation Muscle Bound’ over the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids.
However, Jacobs himself continues to vehemently deny any personal wrongdoing, and when asked in an interview with the Daily Telegraph if he had taken performance enhancing drugs, emphatically answered “Absolutely not, and I would not.
“People think they can say whatever they want about you without understanding that sometimes what they say can be hurtful.
“The negative pieces hurt me a bit because what they did was put doubt over my victories. My victories represent extreme hard work. Hard work that nobody saw, hard work that was blood, sweat, tears and injuries.”
On his dubiously timed break from the sport, Jacobs insisted it was down to physical exhaustion, and not a ploy to avoid scrutiny, claiming he “needed to regenerate my mind and body.”
Jacobs started out in professional athletics as a long-jumper, and in 2016 was crowned national champion and listed 10th in the IAAF rankings.
However, he missed the Rio Olympics due to a hamstring problem and then three years later switched to sprinting, citing the regular injuries he was picking up in long-jump.
Olympic gold represented a meteoric rise in the discipline, and he became the first European athlete to triumph in the event since Linford Christie at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.