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Published:Saturday | October 19, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Seegobin warns against 'negative publicity' on nation's athletes

Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

CUBIE SEEGOBIN, the agent for top Jamaican sprinters Yohan Blake and Warren Weir, believes there is a need for greater education and sensitivity where the matter of anti-doping in Jamaica is concerned; and warned that the island's athletes risk losing their respect on the circuit if the doubts linger.

Jamaica's anti-doping efforts have been the topic of much discussion over the past several weeks, after it was revealed by former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), Renee Anne Shirley, that only one out-of-competition drug test was conducted in the months leading up to the London Olympics.

Shirley later noted that no blood test had been conducted by the body, further fuelling suspicions around the island's top stars.

Seegobin, who also worked with Asafa Powell in the past, is concerned that the island's leading athletes stand to lose significantly if their performances on the track become the subject of doubt.

"All this negative publicity is not good because people start second-guessing who is real and who isn't, who is clean and who isn't clean," Seegobin told The Gleaner.

"There is currently a big demand for Jamaican athletes in Europe in particular. They do a lot of polls and the people want to see Jamaicans, they want to see Usain Bolt and Warren Weir, that's who the people want to see run, but all this adverse publicity is not good at all," he added.

Supported by information recently released by the IAAF, which showed Jamaican athletes to be among the most tested in 2012, with 126 IAAF tests being carried out - including five on Bolt - Seegobin believes a lack of education has perpetuated what he deemed a misconception that Jamaican athletes are not being tested.

"If for any reason people think that the Jamaicans are getting away with anything, they need to think again. The IRMS (Isotype Ratio Mass Spectrometry) tests - not the screening test that you just pass, it"s the one where they look for steroids and they can find anything in your samples; and if anyone thinks that is not done on Jamaican athletes, they are out of their mind," Seegobin said.

"It's all about education, educating the public, educating the athlete, and educating the people of what's going on. There are people cheating, but there are those who get caught up because they are ignorant to what's going on," said the California-based agent.

"Does the public know when people like Dick Pound (former World Anti-Doping Agency president) and these guys talk about they can't find Jamaican athletes to do tests, do they know about all the forms and stuff that these kids have to fill in and tell where they can be found every day to be tested by whoever? This is how their lives are daily," Seegobin said. "It bothers me when people blindly label hard-working athletes and give the impression that folks cannot be found."

Seegobin added: "The pending cases with Sherone (Simpson) and Asafa (Powell), do people even understand what it's all about? You hear that they are doping and trying to cheat, but on the face value the substance that apparently was found in their bodies (oxilofrine) can be taken legally when they are not competing, but no one has taken the time to explain that and give perspective. Instead, everyone just assumes that they are cheating without the facts."

Eight Jamaicans have tested positive for banned substances this year: track and field athletes Veronica Campbell-Brown, Allison Randall, Traves Smikle, Demar Robinson, Powell and Simpson, as well as footballer Jermaine Hue and tae kwon do competitor Kenneth Edwards.