Foster's Fairplay | Support should be unwavering
The breaking news came last week that Jamaica's darling of the track, double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, was on the cusp of the most important journey of her life. By her own statement on her social media pages, she was with child and expected to deliver to an extremely private audience, so different a forum from the public platform where her awesome athletic skills are usually on show. It is a reasonable assumption that this is a joyous occasion for the nation's queen of the sprints, so highly respected and, indeed, loved by her country folk.
They continue to be captivated, caressed and charmed by her career at the top of the world of female sprinting. Foster's Fairplay has done its best to keep aglow the emotions of the nation, speaking about Shelly and her outstanding achievements ever since she stunned the world with her Beijing Olympics triumph in 2008. There is no need to go on with thoughts on all the accolades that she has brought to bear on the country of her birth. We simply wish her the very best in motherhood.
On a note of somewhat less pleasure for sporting enthusiasts, was the preceding news item to Shelly's announcement. It said that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) had appealed the sentence of one year meted out to cricketer Andre Russell for violation of the whereabouts rule. In essence, what was being asked is that the maximum sanction of two years be imposed.
Going the extra mile
The first impression hitting Foster's Fairplay was one of disgust. It just seemed a case of unnecessarily 'going the extra mile' to bring down one of our own. The fact that three instances within a 12-month period of not being able to find the player for drug testing at the locations pre-informed by him, amounted to a positive test, does not escape this journalist. However, is that rule not in conflict with the real intent of the Law - to trap and punish those who have been found guilty of taking performance-enhancing substances?
There can be no quarrel with JADCO in pursuing their case against Russell. He knows and ought to respect the rules. Foster's Fairplay cites him for being manifestly careless. However, he was brought before a tribunal, and both prosecution and defence had their say. He was found guilty and received the one-year ban. JADCO, after all that, is claiming that the weight of the evidence adduced during the hearing spoke to the maximum penalty of two years' absence from the sport.
A call answers
Foster's Fairplay seeks answers. Why is JADCO asking for a second chance to put forward a more convincing argument based on circumstances which are not new? Why did they not call attention to their thinking during the initial proceedings that culminated in the ban? This columnist boasts no legal training, so this is a humanitarian consideration. Russell's ordeal in facing another trial based on the same facts is quite clear. Let the sentence stand as is, comes the call from this corner.
It needs to be mentioned that there are strident voices emanating from other sections where commentary carries considerable weight. The action from JADCO pushing for additional 'pounds of flesh' has been described as nothing more than 'bad mind'. There is enough regard in this columnist's view for JADCO to reject that thought.
This appeal to increase Russell's penalty should be seen as an attempt to say to the world that in Jamaica, the enforcement of anti-doping laws is treated seriously and not in a carefree or flippant manner, as some would suggest. Lack of resolve to expose our athletes, if they are caught or any laxity in testing procedures, should no longer be seen as a consideration. The amount of drug violations unearthed by our own body against our own people gives the lie to any such suggestion.
Let us, as a country that enjoys and preens itself alongside the brilliance of our athletes, continue to support them. The challenges they face in bringing glory to Jamaica deserve that, and more.
Russell has suffered long enough and will continue to do so until he gets back to supporting his family through the most viable medium open to him.
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