Foster's Fairplay | First mandate for new JOA board
A new Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) administration has been voted into office under the leadership of attorney-at-law Christopher Samuda. He is reputed to be very eloquent, a clear thinker and purpose-driven. As to how much his performance will mirror or deviate from the record of the outgoing team captained for 40 years by Michael Fennell, OJ, awaits to be seen. One thing for sure, the prospects of seamless changes announced by the incoming president are welcome, and one hopes these will redound to significant betterment for the image of the sporting landscape. Fennell ran his leg admirably and for this columnist, the fact that he remained above the fray in issues where integrity and transparency came under a shadow at times at the parent body level, is noteworthy. All the very best is wished for him and the fervent hope is that his knowledge and forthright demeanour will not be lost to the discipline he served for the period as mentioned.
Normally, save for a slight and quickly reversed aberration last year, a JOA election process is free of incident. This time around, there were a few exchanges in the electronic media, speaking to manifesto matters and the expertise being brought to the table between Samuda and his opponent for top office, former president of the Jamaica Badminton Association (JBA) and JOA first vice-president in the previous regime, Vishu Tolan. However, with only a few days to go for balloting by the 36 participating sporting bodies, things got a bit sour. During an interview by a reporter on a television programme, a supporter of the Samuda ticket and himself once a JBA top man, made what can be considered an unfortunate remark. It amounted to an unsubstantiated allegation of impropriety on the part of Tolan when he held the reins of the shuttlecock sport. With this in mind, in the view of this columnist, it was inappropriate and in poor taste. Who knows what could have been the sequel if the station had not issued a timely apology?
In sport, its position on the medal table is always, and will continue to be, the measure by which a nation is rated. Foster's Fairplay would like to see the JOA play a more active and conspicuous role in the promotion of the sporting disciplines which come under its umbrella, the objective being a larger medal tally. Having said that, how can a successful effort, given its medal pedigree, to have netball as an Olympic sport not be sustained leading to its inclusion? This is something, it is hoped, that the Samuda aggregation will address.
On the topic of medals, Foster's Fairplay is disturbed at a long-standing episode in that regard. The year 2000 saw the much talked about and then hotly disputed Ottey-Dowdie affair, when there was administrative support for Merlene Ottey to compete in the 100m at the Sydney Olympics, despite not having occupied any of the first three positions at the Trials. She was eventually included when the disgruntled Dowdie, who won the Trials, proved to be unfit to compete. Two of Jamaica's entrants, newcomer Tayna Lawrence and Ottey, finished in third and fourth, respectively, with the winner, the soon-to-be disgraced American Marion Jones, disqualified after admitting years later to having ingested banned drugs over the period.
The silver medallist, Ekaterini Thanou of Greece, was implicated in a missed-test case in 2004 and was denied the gold medal upgrade, however, she was allowed to hold on to her silver. This was instituted by the International Olympic Committee and the results amended by the International Association of Athletic Federations. With Lawrence and Ottey also acquiring their rightful medals, silver and bronze, respectively, the present situation is quite bizarre. The gold position is vacant and the silver has two incumbents - Thanou and Lawrence.
What ails Foster's Fairplay above anything else is that Lawrence has not been granted the gold although the two athletes who beat her are disqualified for one reason or another, as explained. Jamaican track and field fans are asking. She should either receive her gold or they should be afforded the so far absent explanation as to why not.
Is this something for the incoming administration to pursue?
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