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Powell conquers and divides money in perfect six

4 September 2006

By David Powell

What are we to make of the 100 metres? On the one hand it has caused the sport almost intolerable grief, with its succession of high-profile doping controversies, brought to a head this season by the cases of Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones. On the other, it remains the irresistible centre of attention.

So it was here yesterday when Asafa Powell raised interest in the event above all others on the programme in the final Golden League fixture of the season. To the undoubted approval of the 49,112 spectators in the Olympic Stadium, Powell completed an unbeaten league season — six wins out of six — and earned a share of the $1 million (about £530,000) jackpot.

Powell’s portion is $249,999 under a complex new format that divides the $1 million pot in half — the first $500,000 is shared between those who win at all six Golden League meetings; the second half is divided among all the athletes who win a minimum five out of six.

Powell was joined by two 400 metres runners, Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards, in completing a perfect six here.Wariner and Richards, from the United States, together with Powell, saw their takings rise when Tirunesh Dibaba lost her unbeaten record to her Ethiopian compatriot, Meseret Defar, in the 5,000 metres.

Defeat cost Dibaba $125,000, forcing her to settle for $83,333, a one-sixth share of the second $500,000. She shook her head in disgust as she left the track.She was joined as a winner at five Golden League meetings by compatriot Kenenisa Bekele in the 5,000 metres, and Irving Saladino, from Panama, in the long jump.

While Powell has been recording 22 consecutive victories, including heats, since his last defeat 14 months ago, his event has been suffering.

First there was the suspension of Tim Montgomery and the annulment of his 100 metres world record, then the controversial return of Dwain Chambers, a failed test by Gatlin, the Olympic and world champion, and an adverse finding for Jones, a triple Olympic champion.

“I do not know what people are thinking about me but I am trying to make a positive impression on the sport,” Powell said, having recorded 9.86sec yesterday.

It is a hard battle, though. “If athletes keep testing positive all the time, people will not stop thinking about that,” Powell added. “Almost every month you hear of someone being tested positive.”

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