Foster's Fairplay | JAAA should decide on participation
The world sprinting legend, Usain Bolt, tore up the record books at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, setting marks which underlined Jamaica's claim to be the global sprint factory. These heroics should have been no surprise as from 1948, when the country had its Olympic baptism, Herb McKenley, George Rhoden, followed by Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey and Juliet Cuthbert and to a lesser extent, Ray-mond Stewart, were giving hints of what was to come. Veronica Campbell caught the fever by latching on to 200m gold in Athens at the 2004 Games, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and her training mate, Elaine Thompson, both Olympic and World Championships gold medallists, are expected to maintain their supremacy for a few more years at least. From what is said about female athletes after giving birth, Shelly-Ann could even get better. Remember, too, that Asafa Powell had broken the 100m world record in 2005, his copybook slightly blotted by the absence from his cupboard of global gold.
All these happenings left some onlookers in a state of confusion. Is it possible for this little piece of rock to produce all this speed without laboratory assistance? None other than USA's Carl Lewis, himself a sprinting hero, gave vent to his disbelief that the times from Jamaican athletes were legal. There were questions that suggested that the drug testing procedures in Jamaica were wanting in intensity. A former head of world anti-doping authorities, Dick Pound, also went as far to claim in a story published by this paper, that Jamaican athletes could not be found for testing in some instances. At one stage, it appeared as if the local enforcers of anti-doping laws were also questioning their own execution. There was also talk of over-exuberance by some of those entrusted to carry out the testing processes. At the same time, a few athletes were being brought to book. Some of them were found guilty and sanctioned, others set free.
Even the boss of the doping control, Carey Brown, was under pressure and was dismissed in an on going saga, reported by this paper in January of this year and which is still to be finalised.
As if all this turmoil in local track and field circles is not enough, there is a troubling story coming out of the training camp of Sachin Dennis, an athlete who is yet another to display tremendous sprinting skills. His 10.20 seconds 100m time at this year's ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships speaks volumes for a Class Two athlete. The problem with this young man is that he keeps absent-ing himself from competition designed to select teams for events at the junior and youth levels. In one case, he ran and qualified to advance from the heats, but was absent when the final was called.
Contact was established with his camp and news coming out was that he was being spared from too much competition, which, in their view, could limit his career as an athlete. Mention was made of the plethora of young athletes who excelled at the start of their high-school campaign, but who failed to make the transition to the senior ranks.
Foster's Fairplay, while recognising that there was a case to be made in support of his handlers' views, is not convinced that the decision taken to deny him participation, in the way they are doing, was the correct one. The view in this corner is that this type of call should come only from the governing body of the sport, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in conjunction with its Technical Committee. It is hoped that the JAAA will take a look at this or any other similar situation where the progress of the country in track and field is being threatened.
The position taken by Dennis' camp could be an honourable one, but endorsement by the JAAA would go a far way in ensuring that there is all round comfort with the ruling.
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