Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Devon Dick | Dawes' dangerous reasoning on doping

Published:Thursday | March 30, 2017 | 3:00 AM

A couple weeks ago, Dr. Winston Dawes, sports medicine expert, in commenting on the appeal by the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission (JADCO) of the 12-month ban on the famous, flamboyant cricketer, Andre Russell, claimed that person or persons were 'vindictive' and 'personal'. Unfortunately, his comments got too much airplay. It was aired at least twice on television and when the story was being read the picture of the executive director of JADCO was displayed. That was unnecessary and a cheap shot.

It is one thing to be disappointed with JADCO and even to disagree with the actions of that body, but ascribing unsavoury motives to persons without showing the evidence and proving the point is dangerous. Furthermore, Dawes should never have personalised the issue. Some overzealous fans could believe Dawes' comments and decide to take matters into their hands and cause bodily harm to the executive director. I knew the executive director from the 1980s, when he was a student on Irvine Hall. I know his relatives. I have seen him operate as an executive director of JADCO and he does not have a vindictive vein. It is not a personal matter. It is just someone trying to be faithful to one's job.

 

Wait on appeal process

 

Furthermore, Dawes should have waited until the appeal process was over before making such disparaging comments. Then if the tribunal ruled that the appeal was vexatious and frivolous, he could have had some legs to stand on in making such comments about someone being vindictive.

It does not appear as if the goodly doctor understands the appeal process and the reasons. Apparently, there are two issues: one is that JADCO is seeking the written rationale for the ruling. In other words what is the basis for the one-year ban? Furthermore, there is the issue of whether the punishment was lenient.

Dawes would not agree with the assessment that the ruling was lenient. He cited American sprinter Tyson Gay, who got a light sentence for using a banned drug, while Russell's offence was related to filing violations. However, JADCO and Jamaica have to have a higher standard than USA. There are suspicions about the USA anti-doping process, and we are world beaters in track and field and have to maintain our integrity and high standards. Are we going to be compared with Russia next time where there is the allegation of state sponsored doping? JADCO should be commended for wanting to keep the sports clean and ensure that clean athletes are playing on a level playing field. The world will know that we are serious about anti-doping when the world cannot claim that we practise leniency for our favourite sons and daughters.

In fact, what the learnt doctor should have done was to compare rulings in similar cases. Was there another cricketer who got 14 months for fewer filing failures? One does not know all the intricacies of the case and therefore, no rash argument should be made about public servants who are trying to do a good, honest job.

So even if JADCO makes an error, we should be careful about soiling a reputation without cause. Fortunately, it seems that Dawes is learning and made a better statement in light of the alleged anti-doping offence by World Championship medallists hurdler Kaliese Spencer and quarter-mile runner Riker Hylton. Even before the case is tried, Dawes is reported in The Gleaner as calling on 'Jamaican athletes and Associations to take charge of their anti-doping efforts' (March 22). Indeed we need greater care and vigilance as it relates to doping violations. Let us do everything to keep sports clean.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew and author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.