Mon | Jun 1, 2020

Paul Wright | Nothing suffices but transparency

Published:Monday | August 13, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sprinter Jason Livermore has words with his manager Lorenzo Sandcroft during his anti-doping hearing at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, on September 11, 2017. The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission has decided that going forward, all anti-doping hearings will be conducted behind closed doors.

In the minds of some Jamaicans, participating in sports was the ultimate fun. The joy of good, clean competition, where rules are adhered to and opponents respected.

Unfortunately, modern sports have descended to the point where winning is everything. There is one famous quote where legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, "Winning is not everything. It is the only thing". There is much support for the "winning is everything" mantra, as the rewards for winning, and the improved lifestyle and economic well-being of those who win makes winning the ONLY thing.

As a result, participants in sport are constantly in search of the edge. That magical tablet, injection, diet, equipment, training method that guarantees improvement in performance that ultimately will enable one to win, to defeat their opponent.

The search for that edge has resulted in death, illness, and other unwanted consequences, but importantly, the search for the edge has also resulted in improvements in performance that ends in winning. The modern reason for competing.

The history of doping in sports goes back to 393 AD when the Olympics was cancelled mainly because of the prevalence of the use of mushrooms and seeds by competitors seeking the edge. In 1806, the modern Olympics were restarted, and even then, it was noted that athletes were using strychnine and codeine to improve performance.

In 1930, Nazi doctors developed anabolic steroids to increase aggression in troops. In the 1932 Olympics, the USA won 102 medals, and Germany won 20. In the 1936 Olympics, Germany won 89 medals and the USA won 56. During the Second World War, captured German scientists were now working in the USSR and the USA. In 1952, the USSR entered the Olympics for the first time. The US won 76 medals, USSR 71 and Hungary 42. In the 1960's, anabolic steroids were refined and began turning up in sports.




The year 1964 saw the first International Conference on doping in sport, and in the1964 Tokyo Olympics, drug testing in cycling began. However, it wasn't until 1998 when a police raid on the hotel rooms of teams involved in the Tour de France yielded copious amounts of drugs and drug paraphernalia that the world began to take notice of how widespread this search for, and discovery of the edge had reached. This scandal forced the International Olympic committee to organise the first world conference on doping in sport. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established on November 10, 1999. On October 19, 2005, there was the International Convention against Doping in Sport and the implementation and enforcement of the World Anti-Doping Code (Copenhagen Declaration).

Since that time, history has recorded the many instances where athletes who have been found to be in violation of the code, regarding the use of prohibited substances or methods, have had their guilt hidden, excused, or ignored by local anti-doping bodies, determined to minimise, excuse, or even ignore the fact that winning was obtained by illegal and unfair methods. One aspect of the code insists that local anti-doping bodies should not have as members individuals who hold government positions or who are on the executive of sporting organisations that are subject to drug testing.

Jamaica has had two such bodies dissolved on the instructions of WADA for ignoring this important and transparent directive. Jamaica has been at the forefront of transparency in having the hearings of its anti-doping commission (JADCO) open to members of the public, who have a vested interest in the determination of guilt or innocence of their fellow citizens accused of illegal and unfair practices in the desire to win at all costs.


Peculiar Decisions


It is this very openness and transparency that has resulted in unusual and peculiar decisions at these hearings to be successfully appealed. The present desire to hide the proceedings of this process will seriously damage the legitimacy of Jamaica's global athletic prowess, at a time when international naysayers question Jamaica's credibility and its willingness to police Jamaican athletes.

This prevailing desire to close the doors of the process to the public, juxtaposed with revelations of Government-appointed bodies taking decisions contrary to internationally accepted norms, makes one wonder if there are revelations to come that would make transparency embarrassing. The Gleaner editorial of August 12 and the opinion of internationally acclaimed sports attorney Dr Emir Crowne, which are diametrically opposed to the proposed secrecy of JADCO's tribunal hearings, should be enough for us, the public, to let our voices be heard insist that "transparent hearings should be JADCO's default". Nothing else will suffice!