Thu | Dec 13, 2018

Laurie Foster | Poor handling of Taylor's Tampere mix-up

Published:Thursday | August 9, 2018 | 12:18 AM

The track and field fraternity continues to view with deep concern the handling of Christopher Taylor's participation at the recent IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.

The expressions of discontent can be heard from callers to all the radio talk shows. Foster's Fairplay is no less annoyed. It was clear to all who took the time this season to pay attention to the Calabar High School standout that he was being prepared to run the 200 metres at the six-day event. He held the three best times in the world, and the silver he eventually mined in the 400m was not the bounty that the sport's family was expecting from him.

Any knowledgeable person - and one expects that that should include the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) - ought to have realised that the 200m-400m double was not feasible.

Taylor's handlers, it was reported, requested that he be allowed to enter the longer race at the Senior level at the National Championships. It was mentioned that he wanted it for strength training. As things turned out, he got the better of his older rivals, taking the final in 44.88, a best ever for him.

Apparently, this so impressed the selectors that without consultation, they proceeded to enter him in that race in Tampere. For the JAAA to take his no-show for the 200m at the under-20 level as an indication that he was no longer interested in doing that event was an over-reach. Is an athlete of Taylor's quality and impact not deserving of a meeting of minds to confirm his participation or lack of intention to do so in Tampere?

This column is not asking for any rules to be broken. The one in this case, mandates an athlete to participate in the trials. Rules should be respected for what they appear to be. However, in light of this incident and the JAAA holding on to these rules as their reason not to ask any questions. The debate is thrown wide open. There now seems to be just cause to question the existence of the rule and moreso, whether it makes good sense.

In order to effectively enforce any rule, there should be some measure of voluntary compliance. This simply means accepting it and abiding by its restrictions. To have it constantly under attack each time a situation like this arises can only threaten the integrity of the rule. In the opinion of this columnist, the JAAA erred, and the country as well as Taylor was made to pay.

What has happened is that Taylor was "thrown to the wolves", being asked to enter an event for which he was not prepared.

Regardless of the obvious fallout to all this, there is a question that will always remain. What happened should be viewed as unacceptable. Before going forward, there needs to be agreement on that subject. Following that, how can this type of debacle be avoided next time around?

It all comes back to pre-event dialogue among the parties, that are likely to be affected. One does not want to believe that there was anything sinister afoot, although there are those whispers in the air. Having said that, let it be agreed that a situation like this should be avoided without compromising the existing rule. The simple answer to that is a consultation before the event.

That would rule out the embarrassment that has undoubtedly took place in Tampere. Our hard-working athletes deserve better than that.

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