Positively unrelated?

Published: Friday | October 5, 2012 Comments 0
Dominique Blake
Dominique Blake
Orville Higgins
Orville Higgins

By Orville Higgins

The big story that dominated sports headlines earlier this week was the positive drug finding of two Jamaican athletes. That can't be good news for us, at a time when others are smirking at our drug-testing policies and procedures.

In a way, the fact that two Jamaicans have failed drug tests could mean that the system here is working, and that the local authorities have been vigilant in trying to catch the guilty. But the cynics will feel that there are definitely some questions to be answered.

The sceptic will ask when these positive findings were made known to those who should know. The drug tests were done at the national pre-Olympic trials towards the end of June. The London Olympics started towards the end of July and continued till mid-August. My sources tell me that the time between the day of testing to the day of revelation to the testing authorities can be as fast as three weeks.

Blake's bitter complaints

One of the so-far-guilty athletes, Dominique Blake, was at the Olympics but was not made to run in the relays, even though she was qualified to do so based on her placing at the national trials. She wasn't told why, and complained bitterly that she was being victimised.

The Olympic Games were completed a full six weeks after the national trials. The question that must arise is whether she didn't compete in the 4x400m relay because she was deemed not to be good enough, or because somebody knew that "suppm inna suppm!"

Remember that if a tainted athlete takes part in the relays, even in the preliminary rounds, the entire team is disqualified when it is revealed that a member tests positive.

Is it mere coincidence that Blake was not used at all at the Olympics, or was it because somebody knew her participation could affect the whole team, and her omission was merely a precautionary measure? If people did know, whether at the level of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) or the Olympic management team, why didn't they tell her? Was it to protect Jamaica's reputation at the Games, deferring these drug issues because they didn't want to take the gloss off an otherwise magnificent showing?

But if they didn't know - and, of course, that's a possibility - why did it take so long for the results to reach them, a full six weeks, at least, after the test was done? Could it be possible that at the time, members of the Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association knew but JADCO didn't know about these positive findings? Or vice versa?

Wada concerns?

My understanding is that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is here in the island, clearly to satisfy itself that all is well at JADCO, the local drug-testing authority, although it might well be a routine visit.

My sources are convinced that WADA may not be completely happy with everything we are doing. This was an Olympic year, and we admitted to doing minimal drug tests in the months leading up to the national trials. Is that one of the things that could be concerning WADA?

How did the rest of the world interpret that? Is it mere coincidence that the information on the positive findings is coming out now that WADA is here, or is it that the two things are entirely unrelated?

We have seen, in the not-so-distant past, where an entire JADCO board was replaced. I'm not convinced that we have fully understood the reason behind that. Might we see anything similar in the near future?

KLAS sportscaster Orville Higgins is the 2011 winner of the Hugh Crosskill/Raymond Sharpe Award for Sports Reporting. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.

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