THE EDITOR, Sir:
I BELIEVE the shock of the recent developments in the athletics world has driven some Jamaicans over the edge as it relates to their intended methods of ensuring such things are not repeated.
In their efforts to ensure this, our school children have become scapegoats, and the annual athletics meets such as our beloved 'Champs' which usually provides fun and entertainment for us as patrons, and competition for our athletes, will become nothing but an air of speculation and a breeding ground for serious emotional trauma for our young athletes.
I am also a patriotic Jamaican and I also felt discombobulated by these recent developments, but at the end of the day our solution is ludicrous. These professional athletes have made their mistakes, and are therefore subjected to any sanctions that are due to them. Why then is the whole nation rising up and saying our children are to be tested? They are not professional athletes and should therefore not be subjected to the rigors of professional athletics. Testing student athletes will not only be costly, but grossly unfair.
These students are expected to focus on their schoolwork in order to maintain a good average in school, and for some to get a scholarship, in addition to their daily training. Where on earth must time be found to study the list of banned substances or to even know what food or beverage item contains them? Many of these athletes do not even have a structured team around them to educate them on these things.
When you say to a child you have an adverse analytical finding, or you have been tested positive for a banned substance, has anyone stopped to think what such a report can do to a child emotionally? The mere fact that a stigma is attached to positively tested athletes means that a similar wave of negative emotions will inevitably affect such a child. Parents who are also against these tests may also decide to pull their children from championship games in their efforts to shield them from embarrassment should it arise. These actions can then further reduce the competitive nature of local athletics.
I understand that we want our children to familiarise themselves with athletics at a higher level. But I can remember some time ago, in an effort to supposedly curb the levels of sexually active schoolgirls, there were political leaders who posited the view that schoolgirls should be tested periodically to determine if they were sexually active.
But then the question was asked, then what next? If dozens of our young athletes were to test positive, what would happen thereafter? Educating our coaches, parents and other stakeholders in order for them to inculcate within the minds of our athletes what is acceptable and what is not would be a more worthwhile solution Jamaica. A drastic time does not always require a drastic measure.