Bolt rivals out in the cold
Moscow - Usain Bolt will be without his biggest rivals Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake, and a long list of absentees at the world athletics championships also includes the likes of David Rudisha, Kenenisa Bekele, Blanka Vlasic and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Injury and doping cases are the main reasons for the no shows, but also missing is former 800 metres champion Caster Semenya, who simply failed to meet the qualifying criteria.
Blake won the 100m world title in 2011 after fellow-Jamaican Bolt was disqualified for a false start, and is the second fastest man over the distance along with Gay on 9.69 seconds, but is sidelined for the Moscow worlds with a hamstring injury.
Not in Russia either to challenge Bolt, whose world record stands at 9.58 seconds, is the American season-leader Gay (9.75 seconds) over a failed doping test.
Adverse findings have also hit the Jamaican team, in the form of former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, defending women's 200m champion and three-times Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, and Sherone Simpson.
"Everyone is disappointed especially as many of the athletes are well known to us," the president of the ruling body IAAF, Lamine Diack, said.
Bolt said that the cases are "setting us back a little bit," but added: "As a person I can't focus on this ... I am just trying to work hard, run fast and hopefully help people to forget what has happened, and just move on."
Missing doping offenders include 1 500m Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptekin, one of several Turkish athletes caught doping over the past months.
Hosts Russia have had their share of doping cases, with Olympic discus silver medallist Darya Pishchalnikova recently banned for 10 years.
Injuries are depleting the Moscow field as well.
Apart from Blake, the 800m world and Olympic champion, and world record holder, Rudisha of Kenya is sidelined with knee problems. The women's heptathlon is without British Olympic champion Ennis-Hill (Achilles) and Russian title holder Tatyana Chernova (knee), and the former high jump world champion Vlasic of Croatia is also not fit.
While Vlasic has had trouble for several years, the six-times Olympic and five-times world champion Bolt is not really surprised that the post-Olympic season is taking its toll.
"We are in the season after the Olympics where such problems are normal. Every athlete goes to the limit in an Olympic season," said Bolt, who was troubled by hamstring problems himself early in the year.
Ethiopia's Bekele, meanwhile, had to give way for faster and younger compatriots as his track distance running dominance - with three Olympic golds, five world titles, and the still valid 5 000m and 10 000m world records - appears over.
Semenya won the 800m world title in 2009 amid a gender controversy and returned to get silvers at the 2011 worlds and 2012 Olympics once she was cleared to compete for good.
But this time around she was too slow to make the Moscow team and not even a South African plea to the ruling body IAAF helped her.
Another South African, Oscar Pistorius, was a huge fan favourite and respected athlete as the double-amputee "blade runner" competed at the Daegu worlds and London Olympics. But Pistorius must now stand trial from August 19 onwards on charges of having shot dead his girlfriend.