Positive drugs tests this summer from Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, the second and fourth fastest 100m runners of all time, have arguably been most dispiriting for athletics fans, while host nation Russia has 44 athletes currently suspended for doping – more than any other country.
The summer’s standout performances have been a mere footnote so far. But if anyone can single-handedly salvage the sport’s reputation, it is Usain Bolt – winner of 11 global gold medals out of the last 12 he has competed for.
There is plenty more to savour. The phenomenal Mo Farah will attempt to recreate his golden Olympic double, Allyson Felix will chase a record ninth world title, great rivals Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba will duel over both long-distance track events, and Renaud Lavillenie and the retiring Yelena Isinbayeva will attempt to vault to new heights.