Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Foster's Fairplay | The Good, the bad and the indifferent

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 5:00 AM
In this file photo, President of the JAAA Dr Warren Blake (left) greets President of the World Anti-doping Agency Craig Reedie (center), and IAAF President Lord Sebatian Coe on their arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport on February 20, 2015.

Foster's Fairplay has never been a supporter of the good must suffer for the bad way of thinking. This is because it provides less incentive to do the proper thing. Equally, there is a strong feeling in this corner that those who do wrong should be punished. Putting together the two sentiments as expressed, gives birth to a dilemma in which there is a struggle to come up with the right formula. This is the situation that track and field the world over is facing following a European Athletics lobby. The group has put forward a suggestion, which in the view of this columnist, can best be described as scandalous. Coming after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruling that there should be re-testing of athletes' samples retroactive to the Beijing Olympics of 2008, the Europeans are taking it a step further. Their wish is that all world records in the sport be cancelled once they were achieved prior to 2005. From that year, a new compilation process would start. As a result, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will consider the matter at its next Congress to be staged during the London World Championships, this summer. A decision will be taken among the other geographic areas whether the idea should be ratified.

Foster's Fairplay is adamant that give the thumbs up to the thought of rewriting the record books would be a step in the wrong direction. Admittedly, there are existing marks that defy the wildest imagination as to how they could possibly be legitimate. A look at all the women's track events from 10.49 in the 100m and 21.34 in the 200m by the now deceased Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 all the way to Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czechoslovakia's incredible 800m time of 1:53.28, is more than enough to make the point. The 47.60 by the East German Marita Koch over the quarter mile attacks sane thinking even more forcibly. The fact that no athlete, faster tracks notwithstanding and even alleged and admitted substance assistance, has come close, strengthens the case against their authenticity.

With all that in mind, one can understand that a sport frustrated by the knowledge that there is no irrefutable evidence on which to cancel performances as those mentioned is seeking a solution as that born of the Europeans. What they desire for approval is being carried on the crest of a wave that had its genesis in that frustration. It should not be ignored that the positive tests that have emanated from the WADA retesting, could have been the trigger that set off this latest decision. However, it should not be allowed to stand.

 

THE SAME FATE

 

There are athletes who campaigned in the period pre 2005 whose excellence is on the back of hard work, dedication, rigid, uncompromising discipline, and an undying effort to be the best in their event. They have worked diligently at establishing a template by which challenges have been conquered and injuries tackled and overcome in their quest to reach the top of their event. What is the message being transmitted to them? Why must they now suffer due to an accident of birth? The European way should not be shown the light of day. It only pampers to convicted drug cheats who might be seeking company with those who have never been found guilty of any illegal act, but now are likely to suffer the same fate.

The president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, Dr Warren Blake has come out strongly against the European view. Meanwhile, IAAF President, Lord Sebastien Coe, himself a former world record holder, in talking to a section of the British Press, diplomatically said "I welcome the debate." He went on to explain the process going forward which, according to him, could include counterproposals.

Foster's Fairplay has a request for the local boss. Sir, you too need to make a bolder move by communicating your thoughts to your regional supporters. They need to prepare themselves to vote alongside you against the 'scrap them all' lobby and have it turned down. The athletes, including Jamaica's own Merlene Ottey, are under threat of their legacy being tarnished.

It is essential that the opposing vote be loud and clear.

Let us not have anyone abstain this time.

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