Start testing athletes at age 12 - Wright
While advocating drug testing for youth athletes, noted sports medicine physician, Dr Paul Wright, has suggested that children under 12 should be made exempt.
"I don't think it makes sense," Wright said yesterday. "And remember the legal implications of drug testing children: the parent or guardian must give permission and name the observer at the session if they cannot be there."
Wright said if the observer is not named, and the parent or guardian is not present, "you have an assault. And that is jail".
Wright, who was guest speaker at yesterday's weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Kingston, said despite the financial considerations, testing juniors could be feasible.
"You say to the public, 'The entrance fee is $250 or $500. You're going to pay $800. Three hundred dollars of that goes straight into a fund to facilitate drug testing in Jamaica'."
Wright advocates the testing of supplements by Jamaican athletes prior to them being subjected to drug tests in order to verify that the product is clean.
"But you need money to do that, and I believe the Jamaican public will support it if you put it into the entrance fee or sponsorship package."
He stressed the need for education of juniors on drugs and opined that community members who lived in the same areas as the athletes could assist in keeping them alert.
"(If) they see him ordering food from somebody they don't know, they will step in," he said. "They'll say 'Man, you going to get drug tested. You know what in that food'?"
Wright noted that in drug testing he conducted in football and horseracing years ago, no one was suspended and the results were kept confidential. He advocated the same in testing juniors.
"(The results) remained among the people who were administering the programme and we could apply for and get counselling for those who tested positive."
Wright said he believed in athletics, however, there would have to be exceptions.
"If you break a world record or you're going to get a gold medal and you test positive, I don't believe it should be right to give you the gold medal and keep it secret," he said.
Wright said he did not think testing youth would lead to numerous positive results.
"I believe we're getting a raft of positives because people are not familiar with the process and are getting caught," he said.