Moving forward together - IAAF, JAAA have positive discussions
Just over a month after the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) abstained from an IAAF vote in Monaco, Olivier Gers, CEO of track and field's global authority, the IAAF, notes that both bodies have put the matter to rest and are looking forward to moving ahead in continued partnership.
Gers, who was in the island for Friday night's RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards spent most of yesterday morning experiencing Jamaica's grass root athletics system, with stops at the JAAA-Puma Development Meet at Kirkvine, as well as the Douglas Forrest Meet at G.C. Foster College.
His tour followed a meeting with JAAA president Dr Warren Blake, with both men stating that the discussions were positive and that the focus has turned to ensuring that the JAAA and the IAAF continue their close relationship towards the development of the sport.
Gers reiterated that while the IAAF is disappointed that the JAAA did not support its full reform package, there is a clear understanding on the reasons behind its decision, while welcoming the opportunity for discussion.
"We have to put this behind us, we have put it behind us. We completely understand. We talked about it," said Gers. "We are disappointed, but we respect the decision and we are moving on. That's why we are here - to learn and listen and take on board the concerns that Dr Blake had and move forward on a global scale.
"The challenge is to get something that works on a global basis, not for every single country. It's not possible, but we do our best. We moved forward in December and we have some more efforts to make and we know that with Jamaican athletics' help and the JAAA's help, we will be able to go further and faster," Gers added.
The JAAA, which has underlined its support for the general reform package, particularly those geared towards increasing the anti-doping efforts, decided against adding its approval because of grouses with several governance proposals.
With no opportunity to vote on an item-by-item basis, Blake maintained the organisation felt compelled to abstain from voting on the entire 15-point IAAF package.
However, he, too, was happy for the dialogue and is closing that door behind him.
"As Olivier said, we have put everything behind us and we are looking to move forward and just to make it clear that Jamaica is in full support of the IAAF's efforts to improve the integrity of the sport and the anti-doping efforts. We support that 100 per cent, and our support for those efforts were never in any doubt," Blake offered.
Meanwhile, the IAAF executive left the island yesterday with a positive impression of the island's development efforts, noting there is an opportunity to learn from Jamaica's approach and implement in other areas.
"I'm actually speechless. I am looking for words. I am very impressed. This morning (yesterday), we went to G.C. Foster, where about 2,600 athletes were there, and the sheer size of it was humbling, and coming here at Kirkvine and seeing a grass track - the first time I am seeing a grass track; the passion and the fervour, the dedication of the staff, athletes, coaches and officials are just impressive," said Gers. "That's what makes Jamaica so great."