Hubert Lawrence | Carter's curious case
The doubts about Nesta Carter's eligibility to run now is confusing. Had it been announced in 2008 that he had an adverse analytical finding in a doping test at the Olympics that year, he'd have been back on track by the outdoor season of 2009. So there really should be no problem about him running in 2017.
Typically, the punishment for use of illegal stimulants by first-time offenders is six months and sometimes less. In the 2009 case of five Jamaicans who got tripped up by misleading advertising and labelling of a food supplement, the ban was just three months. Treated retroactively in keeping with the current case, there should be no question about Carter's freedom to run in Montego Bay at the Western Relays today.
Had he tested positive in 2008 for something more sinister like steroids or human growth hormones, the maximum sentence would be two years for a first offence. He'd still be back on track in time for the 2011 season and a World Championships, where he helped Jamaica to sprint relay gold and a world record of 37.04 seconds in Deagu, South Korea.
It's hard to see how his current eligibility is affected by the sad events of 2008. In fact, there shouldn't be any doubt that he is free to run now.
If Nesta Carter's appeal to the Court of Arbitration fails, all he should suffer is a three-to-six months erasure of his performances from the Beijing Olympics onward to the end of the period he would have been banned for if the test had be discovered as positive at that time.
The loss of an Olympic gold medal is a huge price to pay, but had his sample tested positive in 2008, any punishment and any ban levied would be over long ago. Until, and if any more positive tests are put on the table, Carter should really be free to go about his athletic business.
The confusing part about this whole thing is that he has run at the indoor and outdoor World Championships, the 2012 Olympics, and at meets at home and abroad since then. In addition to being tested in those Championships, he has almost certainly been subject to out of competition tests by local and international agencies. There has never been a blot on his record until this retroactive test of his 2008 Olympic sample.There is nothing on that post 2008 rÈsumÈ that should stop him from running now. Neither should any sanctions he may or not receive after his appeal hearing. Those sanctions should only apply to the period from his original test date in 2008 to the end of a ban that would likely not last more than six months.
Time will test us all whether Carter can prove his innocence at the final hurdle. By contrast, there shouldn't be any question about him running now. That would punish him twice, and that's one penalty too many.