Mills blasts MVP
Racers Track Club patriarch Glen Mills has come out swinging against the MVP Track Club hierarchy, blasting president Bruce James and head coach Stephen Francis for leading an attack on his organisation and one of his understudies, Jermaine Shand.
The latter had been singled out for criticism by the MVP top brass after Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce - who is coached by Francis - was pulled from the women's 4x100m final at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays in The Bahamas recently, with Francis and James pointing to partiality in the team's selection.
Fraser-Pryce's withdrawal was requested by Francis after she was not used in the heats of the event.
Shand has since explained that Fraser-Pryce was only considered for the final because of the lateness of the request to run her in the heat, and that, in fact, the selections for the final included the entire panel of team coaches and was signed off by technical director Maurice Wilson.
It was suggested that Shand, a sprint coach at Racers Track Club, and others on the team of coaches selected to lead the country's athletes at the event, were being influenced in their decision-making by their personal association with athletes on the team.
"I have a concern. The incident that took place in The Bahamas, unfortunate as it is ... I have watched over the last week, the nation being fed with misinformation, half-truths and false accusations and the majority of it is labelled at a coach (Shand) and it is made to emphasise that he is from Racers," said Mills.
"It is clear in my mind what the intentions are: the continued attack on the Racers Track Club's name and integrity either by implications or direct attack," said Mills.
"I have tried to take the high ground and not to get caught up in any kind of 'cass cass' with any organisation or anyone, especially in the public domain, but what is happening is unfortunate, and it has to stop, and I have to respond because it is unfair to the organisation and to the individual when the allegations are false and on a premise that is designed to hurt or destroy the reputation of an individual and the organisation," added a clearly upset Mills.
"I do not know what the main objective is, but when the president of MVP, Mr Bruce James, is going to go in the media making statements ... . He was not even there. He is talking based on what he is told, I am to assume."
Mills continued: "Yes, Mr Shand is from Racers, but Paul Francis is from MVP and he was on the coaching panel at the World Relays. He is privy to everything that takes place.
"Mr Shand is a junior in the organisation. There is a technical director and a head coach who has executive power to override any decision made. None of those decisions were arrived at without a consensus and participation of all the coaches," Mills continued. "They (Francis and James) know what the protocol is because they have a representative there.
"It is a wicked act to isolate Mr Shand and try to pin the blame on him."
Mills, who also serves as chairman of selectors for the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), while not denying the possibility of coaches showing partiality, defended the selection system given the realities of local track and field.
"I have seen a lot of strange decisions that the explanation doesn't fit. As to the motive, I cannot say definitively, and I don't want to speak on feelings or speculation, but I would say yes, I have seen strange actions or decisions and the explanation does not fit," Mills said.
He added: "I think coaches will push the boundaries as hard as they can, especially in a situation where there is not that great accountability for whatever actions are taken. As it is now, there isn't any process of accountability.
"My positions as chairman of selectors and chairman of Racers are never in conflict. I can say without any contradiction that I have, over the years, proven my ability to be impartial and objective. That is unquestionable," Mills stated.