Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Relay medal DQ an affront to fairness

Published:Tuesday | February 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM


We have been summoned to rally round the members of the men's sprint relay team who, having broken the world record at the Beijing Olympic Games some eight-plus years ago, have had to surrender their gold medals.

Their medals had to be surrendered as a result of an adverse finding against one of their number after a recent inquiry into an alleged drug violation at those Beijing Games.

The consensus appears to be that there should be an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against that finding and that all Jamaica should seek to engage to energise the prospect of a favourable outcome.

There is also a widely held, well-reasoned view that the finding does not stand on solid ground. One of the complaints is that the 'offending article' was not clearly shown to be on the list of banned substances, sufficient for the athlete to be unmistakably aware of it.

If that is true, if there is doubt about it, the unfairness to the athlete is immediately apparent.

democratic principle

And all Jamaica would embrace the immensely important democratic principle that no person should be punished under a rule unless it is sufficiently clear and certain to enable him to know what conduct is forbidden before he acts.

There is a second limb to the principle: No person should be punished for any act that was not clearly and ascertainably punishable when the act was done.

This twin principle would have found favour within the democratic Greek society of long ago which spawned the first Olympiad. It is a principle that has run through the ages.

We want that principle be applied to our beloved athletes of that relay team who have given us such unforgettable joy in the midst of all our challenges over these years. And the Bird's Nest was extra special.