Contrasting views on Taylor anti-doping charge
AS THE situation surrounding Jamaican quarter-miler Christopher Taylor’s anti-doping violation charge unfolds, sports medicine specialist Dr Paul Wright and sports lawyer Dr Emir Crowne have offered contrasting views about whether the violation is, by letter of the law, evasion.
Taylor was charged on Friday for evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection stemming from an incident that reportedly took place last November. If found guilty, Taylor would be in breach of World AntiDoping Agency (WADA) Code Article 2.3, which points to “refusing or failing without compelling justification to submit sample collection after notification as authorised in applicable anti-doping rules or otherwise evading sample collection”.
Taylor reportedly was contacted by anti-doping officials to do a test at the location he indicated on his whereabouts form but was not at the location, but at the Norman Manley International Airport, where he was waiting for a flight that had been booked for him.
Reportedly, the officials went to the airport, and in the middle of producing a sample, the flight was ready to leave. Wright said that given the circumstances, by the letter of the law, that qualifies as evasion.
“The rules are specific. You cannot say no. If you say no, and don’t give the test, you are guilty of an offence, and the penalty is going to be based on what comes out in a hearing,” Wright told The Sunday Gleaner.
“He didn’t run from the test. He didn’t do it when he was asked to do it. Now that is evading.”
Wright said that once identification is established and the test is not done, the perception is that there is not a genuine reason for it.
“Once I have identified myself. If you say no, that is an extremely serious offence because you have not done the test, and the thinking behind it is that you have evaded the test because you are of the opinion that you might test positive,” Wright said.
However, Crowne is of the belief that the charge should not have escalated to the level of a refusal to submit a sample based on the reported events.
“The type of conduct envisioned by evasion and refusal, and so on, is not the type of conduct that played here. Here, you have someone through failures-of-whereabouts information was boarding a plane,” Crowne said.
“It is not like he had power over the flight, power to stop the flight, and quite frankly, it should have been a whereabouts violation. It should not be an evasion or a refusal allegation,” Crowne said.
MAXIMUM 4-YEAR BAN
Taylor is facing a maximum four-year ban from the sport if found guilty, however, the sentence can be reduced to two years. According to WADA Code Article 10.3.1, the sentence could be reduced to two years if Taylor can “establish that the commission of the anti-doping violation was not intentional”, but Crowne believes that overreach by anti-doping authorities has resulted in Taylor fighting for his career.
“I think anti-doping authorities have to take some responsibility when athletes’ reputations are in their hands. Here you have a young, black Jamaican athlete, and his career is on the line for what I believe, genuinely, to be an overreach by the anti-doping authorities,” Crowne said.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has emphasised the responsibility of the athletes to accurately update their whereabouts information with specific details that include the time slot and location they will be at each day of the quarter as well as their regular activities and full details surrounding participation in competitions.
Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission chairman Alexander Williams said on Friday that the matter is being handled by the AIU and that they are awaiting official notification.