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Pound: Jamaica paying the price of success

Published:Friday | April 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Richard 'Dick' Pound at a press conference in the Pineapple Lounge at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday shortly after he arrived in Jamaica. See 'Ready for a showdown' . - photo BY Janet Silvera

Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter

There was an outcry from Jamaica's junior athletes to last month's Carifta Games after they complained that they were subjected to continuous drug testing in The Bahamas.

This is a cry that has also come from senior athletes to various championships, but former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President, Richard 'Dick' Pound, believes it is the price Jamaica pays for its achievements in track and field.

"That is one of the prices of success and it is not unique to athletics or to Jamaica," Pound told The Gleaner shortly after arriving at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday.

Pound will be in the island for four days during which he will, tomorrow, be guest speaker at the University of the West Indies' third Sports Anti-Doping Workshop.


"You (Jamaica) are winning, so persons are going to wonder if it something in the air, something in the water you are drinking or if it is a case of natural talent being well polished and well trained," Pound added.

"I think the difficulty for Jamaica - and it is a nice difficulty to have - is you've had such extraordinary results in athletics for a small country that everybody is looking at you now. It is not like China or the United States, where you expect that there are going to be hundreds or thousands of athletes. You have less than three million people and you have had unbelievable results."

Pound further believes that Jamaica is actually in a privileged position, as it is a sign of respect that the country's athletes are under the microscope.

"It is a nice position to be in, in some respects, as it is recognition that you (Jamaica) are that good," Pound said. "It is the price in a world of sports culture that has allowed doping to get too far before it reacted, so anytime you see a fantastic result, you ask yourself and you wonder."


Pound, who served as president of WADA for eight years and was also vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), thinks the major problems with testing are human made.

"The problems are not scientific problems, the problems are people problems. The science is robust and strong," Pound argued.

"There is certainly a suspicion that what some labs do is when they get a positive result and they call up whoever commissioned the test and they look and say, 'Oh dear, it's our stars, why don't you lose that one'."

The Canadian native would like to see input from all the stakeholders to get things up to the standard they need to be.

"I think we need a more vigorous education programme that covers everybody from athletes to coaches, to parents, to politician, to journalist," Pound outlined. "We need more intelligent testing programmes, we need governments to help with the investigative powers that they have which we don't have in sports and make the results known and we need to find where the stuff is coming from and where it is going."