© Copyright – 2022 – Athletics Illustrated

Better to remain silent and to be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

— Abraham Lincoln, 1860.

Whether Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, Marcell Jacobs, of Italy is clean or not, he should avoid the vehement denials. The 27-year-old should remain silent about rumours that he is suspected to have taken anabolic steroids or any banned performance-enhancing (PEDs) drugs. It’s not becoming of a champion and only serves to fuel the skeptics.

Regardless that his nutritional adviser was under investigation for allegedly pedalling in anabolic steroids or any PEDs or that Jacobs’ time is shockingly fast at 9.80 seconds, decorum will serve him best. Being quiet like Usain Bolt keeps the cacophony from the naysayers to a dull roar.

Few suspect Bolt.

The 9.80 performance benchmark has been breached on just 38 occasions, by nine athletes. Every athlete on the list aside from Bolt (9.58), has been associated with performance-enhancing drugs. Not all have been charged; suspended or tested positive. Christian Coleman for example, simply missed four tests within a 12-month period. Maurice Greene was caught with paraphernalia, however, claimed it was for someone else. He was not charged. Only Jacobs and Bolt — of the six athletes who have run exactly 9.80 — have not been associated with PEDs.

Bodybuilder and nutritionist Giacomo Spazzini who claimed to work with the two-time Olympic gold medallist was the subject of a steroid probe in Italy.

British media reported that police in Milan investigated Spazzini under the dubious code name Operation Muscle Bound. Spazzini apparently owns a fitness and nutrition consulting company and is alleged to have said that he has trained Jacobs.
Even if Spazzini was found to have supplied PEDs to athletes, that does not prove that Jacobs took any.

A man who worked at the clinic owned by Spazzini, has been convicted of falsely claiming to be a doctor. The charge and conviction came as part of the same investigation. The investigation concluded with no charges to Spazzini.

Performance improvement

Until 2021, Jacobs’ best 100m performances hovered over 10-seconds. His best was 10.03 from a meet in Padova, Italy in 2019. To run with the best, he would have to at least breach the 10-second barrier. In 2021, he did just that, but in spades, clocking the aforementioned 9.80 performance during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Leading up to the Olympics, he set the Italian record at 9.95 in Savona, Italy. Many of his prior performances were 10-mid.

It could be argued that once he dropped the long jump and the 200m to focus on the 100m and the 4 x 100m relay, he improved due to specificity in training.

Jacobs won his first 100m heat in Tokyo in the time of 9.94 seconds, improving his own Italian record by 0.01. In the semi-final, he was third with a time of 9.84 seconds. This was a new European record and qualified him for the final with the third overall fastest time.

In the final, he became the first Italian to win the gold medal in the event, and the first European to win since Linford Christie won in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Jacobs competed in the long jump until 2016, however, could not leap beyond 7.95m, according to his World Athletics profile. It was at that time that he began to focus on sprinting in the 100m, 200m, and 4 x 100m relay. His 200m personal best is from 2018 at 20.61, which matched his 100m bests performance at that time. It appears that he has now dropped the 200m. Jacobs is now almost exclusively a 100m and 4 x 100m relay athlete. However, does run indoors over the 60m distance. His best at that distance is 6.47, which is the Italian national record.


“These controversies do not affect me,” Jacobs told Il Messaggero in August.

“I know that I got here by making many sacrifices. I have been through disappointments and defeats, but I always got back up and rolled my sleeves up.

“If I have reached this point, it is only thanks to hard work. They can write what they want.”

Recently he told British media that his 100m win was, “down to blood, sweat and tears, not doping.”

Jacobs has denied doping repeatedly in the Italian media since the Olympic Games concluded.

The tactic no longer works to sway public opinion as enough sprinters and mid and long-distance athletes have claimed to be clean until often proved otherwise. Denial is the first go-to tactic, however, falls on jaded and deaf ears. His best tactic would be to remain silent.