André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Current Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) fourth vice-president, Dr Winston Dawes. admitted that the organisation's image has taken a battering in the face of recent controversies and called for unity as the November 29 annual general meeting and elections loom.
Dawes, a 40-year sports administration veteran, told The Gleaner that he will not be seeking re-election, citing certain disappointments in the leadership of the organisation and underlined an urgent need for a concerted effort in ensuring the sustained success of track and field in Jamaica.
Interestingly, Dawes is one of three current vice-presidents who will not be running on the slate of incumbent president Dr Warren Blake at the upcoming elections, something that many believe will hamper Blake's chances.
In addition to Dawes, first vice-president Grace Jackson is contending the presidential race, while Donald Quarrie, the second vice-president, was not brought along on the slate in controversial terms.
Several questions have been asked of Blake and his administration in recent weeks, primarily around a letter that the president wrote to his treasurer, Ludlow Watts, addressing certain concerns, such as the payment of $7 million worth of Olympic tickets and whispers of discrepancies around the list of voters.
"I stepped back, I indicated that I couldn't contend," said Dawes, a former Jamaica Football Federation president. "I felt what I was hoping to see or what I was saying was falling on deaf ears, so I thought it was time I stepped aside.
"I think it (election) has affected the (JAAA's) image negatively," Dawes added. "There have been a lot of things that have been boiling up and have not been resolved and it may be time for us to sit down and confront our demons.
"Having confronted them, we will need to then decide whether we are coming together or whether we must go our own ways for the good of the sport. The way things are going it will be difficult for it to continue and survive as a powerful organisation," said Dawes, who was recruited by former JAAA boss, Howard Aris, who passed away late last year.
"We spent too much time arguing about who running for what and who is saying what. We had an opportunity after the Olympics to try and come together and put a development plan forward and see where people could fit in," Dawes continued, before warning of a need to focus on maintaining the current levels of success.
"Our biggest sport now is track and field, it has gained us the greatest prominence and it really builds national unity. If we are going to have sustained success, then we must organise or we will end up like West Indies cricket," he warned.
Dawes, a noted medical practitioner and chief medical officer at the May Pen Regional Hospital, has been a JAAA executive since 2004 and has served on countless national teams at the senior and junior levels.