Williams brands ban unfair
Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
Former national 200-metre champion Chris Williams says he was surprised at hearing the news last weekend that he was banned for two years by the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) after returning an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) following drug tests carried out at a track meet in Spain on July 8, 2009.
Williams, whose most noted performance to date is a silver medal in the 200m at the 2001 World Athletic Championship in Edmonton, Canada, said after hearing from the authorities last year that his urine sample had returned an 'AAF' he was not expecting a two-year ban, as he had declared to the meet organisers that he was taking cold medication and did not intentionally seek to enhance his performance by the use of drugs.
"I don't think the judgement was a fair one. This judgement was like I was on steroid or some performance-enhancing drugs," Williams, who turned 38 on March 15 said.
"If I am going to get punishment, at least punish me just the way you punished other athletes recently. If they were on stimulant and I was on cold medicine, I don't see why I should get more time than them. It's just unfair," he added.
Williams was making reference to the recent bans of sprinters Yohan Blake, Marvin Anderson, Allodin Fothergill and Lansford Spence who were suspended last year.
According to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) website, the AAF that was returned by Williams was amphetamine/ levmetamphetamine. His suspension runs until November 8, 2011.
But Williams, in his defence, said he was feeling ill while on tour of Europe during the period in question, and took a medication called Dayquil and Vicks inhaler as means of overcoming a cold. This, he said, was communicated to the meet organisers.
"When I took the cold medicine I didn't know that it would have affected me in terms of a ban," said Williams, who finished third in the 200m at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.
He also finished second at the third World Athletics Final in Monaco, France in 2005.
"When they asked me at the meet if I was taking anything, I said 'yes, cold medicine,' and put everything on the paper. I have proof of this," he continued.
"It was not easy to fly with a cold, with your head and nose stuffy, and, as such, on my way to the meet I took the medicine."
Williams, in the meanwhile, is also unhappy with the local association for its handling of the matter. According to him, the association failed to keep him adequately informed of proceedings after they had discovered that he was to be sanctioned.
green card lost
He said they got in touch with him to arrange a hearing but at the time his green card was lost.
"They notified me, but the time when I got the notification I could not come down, due to the loss at the time of my green card. It took me about seven months to get back my green card," he said.
Williams also said that it was not until last weekend that he got further news on the case.
"Up to now I still have not received an official letter declaring that I was banned. Saturday was the first time that I heard the news, and it was in the media. I was so shocked to hear that it was a two-year ban.
"The least they could have done is call or e-mail me and say Chris you are banned, and you will be seeing it in the media shortly."
Contacted for a comment yesterday, JAAA President Howard Aris said he would not speak on the matter publicly as this was an issue for Dr Warren Blake, head of the association's medical and doping committee.
Blake is expected to make himself available for comments to the media today.