Allow me to take one final puff from the Olympic chalice. My drug analogy is not inappropriate because of our legendary reputation as a major user of illicit drugs and other mind- and body-altering substances of the legal type as well. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) might not do random testing on non-athletes, but we are great aficionados of the 'ishen', sensimilla and other natural variants of cannabis sativa.
This great sacramental herb, hardly considered to be a drug except by vigilant policemen and women who enforce the law, is not a performance enhancer, although it is banned by WADA. Rather, it slows speech, thought processes and movements, and despite being found in the body of one of the biggest male athletes on this past Olympic squad, it didn't find its way into the diet of former WADA head, Dick Pound, who acts as if he was smoking.
Sounding as obscure and negative like Darth Vader from Star Wars, Pound, clearly not a Jedi Master, is more nebulous than Yoda, and sounds as if he is talking Sith. This group of antagonists embrace the dark side and are hell-bent on destroying the heroes, who harness laser, speed, mind control and lightning bolts to uplift the people.
Pound irresponsibly, if not maliciously, described Jamaican athletes as "one of the groups that are hard to test". Obviously not speaking about the failure of the American sprinters to best us when they put us to the test, he further declared, "It is hard to get in and find them, and so forth."
Against the background of the sore-loser comments from drug-free former American sprinter Carl Lewis, the man we almost forgot since '94, this was damning. Thankfully, the current WADA administrators rubbished the Sith-like comments from Pound, who was speaking on his own initiative and not theirs.
Indicating that when last evaluated, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) was compliant, WADA unambiguously stated, "In order to achieve compliance, an anti-doping organisation needs to satisfy a number of criteria with regard to its anti-doping programme, including having an element of out-of-competition testing."
Doubtless, Pound knows nothing of Jamaica and why we run so fast. Jamaicans have what University of the West Indies academic Dr Rachel Irving and other scientists describe as the speed DNA. On top of that, we have many unique sociological features which all combine to make us world-beaters in many other areas.
We have, reputedly, the most churches per capita and square mile and the most bars per square kilometre in the world. Famous for our rum as well, we produce the purest and most powerful 'drug' coming from any sugar estate globally. Fabled for clearing the sinuses, throat and mind, the super overproof 'kulu-kulu', also known by initials 'JB', which can't be appropriately written or broadcast, washes lies from the mouths of the imbiber because of its potency.
Some of the best JB is produced on plantations in the same geographical area where the majority of our sprinters cluster in origin. Pound must be doing penance, because he was the attorney who represented disgraced Jamaican-Canadian Ben Johnson in his defence against his drug charges and was left with egg on his face after Johnson confessed. Clearly, it was not a Thursday, because it was not Ben Johnson's day, as Pound seems hell-bent on carrying out witch hunts, even to the point of maligning the best thing that has happened to track and field since the IAAF dropped its amateur status and allowed athletes to compete professionally in 1997.
THE FIGHT AGAINST JAMAICA
The full length of Dick Pound's name leaves a nasty taste in the mouth because he apparently has more of an axe to grind than he has teeth. His pronouncements regarding Jamaican athletes are scurrilous and border on defamatory, malicious and dumb. First of all, WADA rules require that athletes make their whereabouts known at all times. This means that their training regimen must be reported and their addresses, dates of departure out of the country and other vital information for them to be tracked have to be given to WADA. However, short of having a homing device implanted inside a body cavity, the average athlete cannot be found simply by having the WADA officer pop in.
Furthermore, unless one has intimate knowledge of a community, one can easily get lost. Imagine finding Melaine Walker along the gully banks off Maxfield Avenue. Does the average Kingstonian know where Sherwood Content is? How do you navigate the streets from Farham Road, through Penwood without getting lost on Gandhi Road or Ashoka Road? After all, I spent the first 11 years of my life traversing that area and will still get lost in Waterhouse, where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was born and still worships.
Not being able to find an athlete for a random test doesn't mean the athlete is hiding. Oftentimes, it's simply that the agent doing the seeking is topographically challenged. It is for that reason that WADA does not impose sanctions for missing a single test when its agents are unable to locate him/her, unless there is clear evidence that there is fraud or other attempts at eluding tests.
Pound must, indeed, desire more than a pound of flesh for some imaginary unpaid debt that Jamaican athletes, and especially those from Trelawny, might owe him. However, unlike The Merchant of Venice, there will be no Portia's speech.
My recommendation to Pound is that he take a sip of Jamaican cane juice, a drink of coconut water to wash the evil off his heart, and a kiss of the JB to clear his head.
As for Lewis, his un(gentle)manly rant and attempt to denigrate the performance of the Jamaicans is unfortunate and bad enough as we know of his bias. After all, no one has questioned how an American relay team was able to break an unbreakable 27-year-old female record which was set by an East German quartet. Generally accepted to be questionable because there was no drug-testing scrutiny behind the Iron Curtain and WADA did not yet exist, the 41.37 was smashed to pieces last week. More than half a second was ripped off the old world mark and the US ladies improved the American record by 0.65 seconds.
In contrast, the Jamaican men, with superman Usain Bolt, could only skim 0.30 seconds off the old American record of 37.40 in 2008. Interestingly, the slowest of the four 4x100m men's relay team which won between 2008 and 2012 was the one with American-trained Steve Mullings, who was caught by JADCO and banned for life.
We could question how Carmelita Jeter, who was running 11.02 seconds for the 100 metres in 2007, suddenly improved to 10.64 in 2009 at age 30. Jeter, a feminine but muscular runner, is currently the fastest American sprinter this year and the fastest of all active sprinters. At 33, an age when most (excepting legend Merlene Ottey) women retired from running, she could be considered too good to be true.
Nonetheless, what should be frightening to the detractors who are looking at Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and others is that Blake was a teen phenomenon, running the 100m in 10.11 seconds as a 17-year-old. Similarly, Bolt ran 19.93 for the 200m and 45.35 for the 400m also at 17. Equally scary is that on the three record-breaking relays, the difference was made by Nesta Carter and Michael Frater. Drop dead! Blake ran slower than the third leg Bolt completed in 2008 and Bolt last week was slower than Asafa Powell's fastest ever anchor leg of 8.70 seconds. So, guess, what, it is the slowest two of the four Jamaicans who beat the USA.
Have some JB; at least there will be an excuse for the stupor.
Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.