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Franklyn: 12 too early to test athletes - PM's adviser says thorough discussions needed on high-school drug scans

Published:Monday | July 29, 2013 | 12:00 AM
FRANKLYN

 Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

As the debate continues over the idea of performing drug tests on high-school athletes, senior adviser to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Delano Franklyn, says discussions are ongoing to decide an appropriate age at which to start.

In the aftermath of recent high-profile breaches of anti-doping regulations by professional Jamaican athletes, Simpson Miller recently announced the Government was considering the introduction of a drug-testing programme at high-school sporting events.

Franklyn, who was speaking against the background of suggestions from sports physician Dr Paul Wright that children be tested as early as age 12, emphasised it was imperative that the age for first testing be thoroughly discussed.

AGE THE ISSUE

"The prime minister's announcement is in keeping with international standards, and I am in total agreement. The issue for me is exactly what age and the proposed age announced by Dr Wright to test athletes is just too low and asking too much," he told The Gleaner, following The Mico University College's Class of 1986 Celebration at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Saturday.

"The age of 12 is a traumatic age. A child would not be involved in international competition under the rules of WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency). The age that would be most appropriate has to be one where that kind of parental approval would not be necessary, and my personal age would be 16, but discussions are still ongoing," Franklyn said. "But the age has to be properly thought about, and we are talking about all sports, not just track and field."

He added: "The prime minister, in her presentation, made it clear that before the policy is implemented, the age must be determined and all the relevant stakeholders must come on board and so consultations are ongoing, and critical to it are the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association, the education ministry, the JTA (Jamaica Teachers' Association), the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association and also, from the standpoint of education information, JADCO (Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission)."

Franklyn also called for Jamaicans to support the athletes.

"Let us not be quick to throw them under the bus. Let us not be driven by sensationalism. They (athletes) need our support and we must stand behind them as a country," he asserted.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com