BANNED FOR LIFE!
- JADCO hands down maximum penalty on Steve Mullings for doping violation
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Four days after being found guilty of committing his second doping violation in seven years, sprinter Steve Mullings has been banned for life from all sports by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) disciplinary panel, which yesterday accepted the recommendation of JADCO attorney Lackston Robinson who said Mullings was now guilty of two standard violations.
He said, bearing in mind that the athlete did not attend the disciplinary hearing and failed to produce any evidence to discredit JADCO's testimony, he must be harshly punished.
It is "our international obligation and duty to protect our clean athletes, a message should be sent."
Robinson had recommended a ban of eight years to life for the athlete, who turns 29 in a week's time.
"We believe that a clear message must be sent to our athletes, whether home or abroad, that prohibited substances must not be used," said Lennox Gayle, chairman of the JADCO disciplinary panel in his summation just before he announced the verdict.
Alando Terrelonge, the attorney representing the embattled athlete, argued passionately that Mullings should not be punished for not attending the hearing.
He also argued that given that there was no evidence to suggest that the athlete intentionally ingested furosemide to either aid performance or mask the use of substances taken to aid performance, a lesser sentence of four to eight years be considered; one to four on the premise that he did not intentionally ingest furosemide.
Following the ruling, Terrelonge said he felt like his athlete was unfairly sanctioned.
"Justice was not done. It is obvious that justice was not done," said Terrelonge, who intimated that his client could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
"If you listen to the reason given by the chairman, he did not come so he was punished because he did not come. It is absolutely unfair to the young man. At the very highest, you would think they would have considered eight years," he argued.
Gayle denied Terrelonge's claims that Mullings was punished because he did not attend the hearing.
In his summation, Gayle said Mullings was given multiple opportunities to attend the hearing. Several emails were sent to Mullings urging him to attend the hearing, but of did not respond. However, at the conclusion of the hearing he clarified the position of the panel.
"It was absolutely not punishing him in any way. It is his right," Gayle said at the conclusion of the proceedings. "Given the seriousness of the allegations, we believe he should have been here to defend that strong allegation at the time."
He said the testimony of doping control officer, Dr Paul Wright, was key to JADCO's case. That, and the fact there was no evidence to suggest that Mullings' sample had been tampered with.
The hearing, which was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., did not get under way until 3:15 p.m. Robinson, who represented JADCO, explained that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association that should have sent him a document at the last hearing date (Thursday, November 17) outlining the specific circumstances of Mullings' 2004 violation - which would help determine the length of his ban - arrived only yesterday afternoon, and even then, the information it contained was incomplete.
Additional information had to be downloaded from the website of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and analysed just prior to the start of yesterday's hearing.