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Dr Paul Wright: Usain, JA athletes will be ready for Beijing

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMDr Paul Wright, Contributor
Kimberly Williams lands in the sandpit while competing in the women’s triple jump at the JAAA Supreme Ventures Senior National Athletics Championships at the National Stadium. Williams won with a leap of 14.34 metres.

Jamaican sport fans had a good last weekend in June. Our track and field representatives showed at the National Trials that the impressive form (and times) of our fiercest rivals, the USA, need not be a reason to panic.

I truly believe that all is well with our athletics programme and that we have no need to worry about playing second fiddle to the Americans at the World Championships in China later this year.

Shelly (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce) and new sensation, 'birthday girl' Elaine (Thompson) will ensure that the National Anthem and flag feature in the sprints in Beijing.

Gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays are racing certainties (or 'cook-food-specials') in Beijing, and I also predict medals in the 400m and 4x400m relays for women.

In the men's sprint events, the world's fastest human (ever) has enough time to get his act together before the Championships, and although medical marvel (anomaly?) Justin Gatlin continues to record impressive performances, I am assuring fans: "Don't worry, be happy," Bolt will be ready for him.

The ability of coach Stephen Francis to identify sprinting talent in 'also-rans' at our annual Boys and Girls' Champs must surely qualify him for a permanent place in the lexicon of outstanding athletic coaching achievements.

The improvement of new sensation Elaine Thompson from 11.4 to sub-11 in four years replicates what he did with Asafa Powell some years ago. That he continues to ply his trade in Jamaica says a lot for his nationalism.

It is high time that a national recognition of his obvious genius is allowed to flourish a la Government and Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association support.

Praise of coach Francis must, however, be tempered with the reminder of Powell's inability to run his races through to the finish, until his separation from coach Francis after a drugs ban, to now seeing him run straight past the finish line, seemingly fearless of opponents.

I do believe that after the World Championships in Beijing, the answer to the question: "Should Asafa have left MVP earlier in his career?" will be answered ... finally.


allegations of drug use

The allegations of drug use by athletes, who either confess to drug use or finger coaches and fellow athletes who use drugs, seem to be the main way that drug cheats are 'outed'.

The confessions of a doctor and fellow athletes re the supposed drug use of the winner of the 100-metre race at the Moscow Olympics by an athlete who now seems to be an icon in the fight against doping, the 'confessions' of athletes coached (one time) by Alberto Salazar (who has denied the allegations and maintained his innocence), and the naming (and shaming) of a doctor who is implicated in the ability of athletes to cheat and escape detection when tested, by American sprinter Lauryn Williams, has definitely put a damper on the remarkable achievements of some athletes.

We are only now beginning to understand the importance of Tyson Gay's statement to USADA (United States Anti Doping Agency). Gay's reduced ban for testing positive (more than once) for the same drug was not accepted by Jamaican sports fans. But his revelations seem to have resulted in bans for coaches and a new understanding of micro dosing anabolic steroids, the use of insulin derivatives and thyroid medications by drug cheats.

WADA has publicly stated that the way to catch these cheats is to arrange testing of these athletes between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Therefore, (some would say, "elementary") anti-doping commissions who insist on testing athletes out of competition ONLY when they announce their availability, as required by the WADA Code that necessitates them giving a one-hour time slot every day for testing, seems to be completely uninterested in catching cheats, despite 'intelligence' from fellow athletes.

Every Jamaican sports fan must now hope that the 'new' JADCO board understands this truism and is taking steps to institute unannounced out-of-competition testing.

Testing positive during competition when the date and times of the test is known weeks in advance does not reflect the success of a testing programme. It confirms the carelessness or IQ deficiency of the cheat caught.