Letter of the Day | Righting Dr Paul Wrong
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Andre Russell anti-doping case has garnered much attention and media publicity without some persons having a true understanding of the salient facts or the arguments raised before the Disciplinary Panel.
Dr Paul Wright's column on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, published in The Gleaner, commended the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) for seeking to appeal the one-year ban given to Mr Russell. JADCO, of course, has the right to do so. Dr Wright, however, sought to justify his commendation by painting a picture of egregious and "nefarious" conduct. Dr Wright posits at paragraph 3 of the article: "The facts, as determined by the panel, were that Russell was not present at a prearranged address when the anti-doping team from JADCO arrived to conduct a test."
No such facts were determined by the panel. It is unfortunate that Dr Wright did not take the time to read or properly understand the decision of the panel before commenting on the decision. Had he done so, Dr Wright would not have been so wrong on certain basic findings of the panel. No such charge was even laid before the panel by JADCO. Mr Russell was brought before the Disciplinary Panel for alleged whereabouts filing failure. In other words, JADCO alleged that Mr Russell failed to submit his whereabouts information on time before a relevant quarter on three occasions.
Dr Wright then continues at paragraph 6: "Missing three drug tests in a 12-month period, when the athlete has an opportunity to change the predetermined venue ... suggests either a blatant disrespect for anti-doping rules or a deliberate missing of the tests because of nefarious reasons."
Under the anti-doping rules, an athlete is guilty of a violation if there is a combination of three missed tests and/or filing failures. JADCO did not allege, and the panel did not find, three missed tests as stated by Dr Wright, but three whereabouts filing failures. That means the panel found that Andre did not input his whereabouts information within a specified period on three occasions within a 12-month period.
The unchallenged evidence before the panel was that he was in competition and regularly tested by various international organisations throughout that period. There were no missed tests, as Andre has always maintained that he is a clean athlete, and his record speaks for itself.
To suggest that Andre missed "three drug tests in a 12-month period and was deliberate in missing the tests because of nefarious reasons" is just another example of Dr Wright being wrong on the facts. Actual extracts from the decision of the Disciplinary Panel read as follows: "... In the instant case, the respondent athlete, as per the evidence heard, has not displayed a pattern of last-minute whereabouts changes or other conduct which raise a serious suspicion that the athlete was trying to avoid being available for testing ... ."
I do hope that Dr Wright will take the necessary steps to correct the misrepresentations contained in his article and apologise.
PATRICK FOSTER (QC)
Attorney-at-Law for Andre Russell