ATHLETICS: Fraser-Pryce calls for support, threatens athlete strike!
Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
MONTE CARLO, Monaco:
Jamaican sprinting dynamo Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has blasted Jamaican officials for what she described as a lack of support and threatened that herself and other Jamaican stars are prepared to go on strike.
Fraser-Pryce, who is here for Saturday’s IAAF Awards and Gala, believes that local officials have done too little to defend the athletes in the face of heavy international criticism and questions about the integrity of their performances and also believes a lot more should be done in terms of infrastructural development and medical and financial support for upcoming athletes who don’t earn a lot.
“If there are certain things that are not up to standard then that’s the thing we have to do [strike] because if we don’t run, they [officials] will start to do things,” said Fraser-Pryce, who is nominated for the world female athlete of the year award.
“If it comes down to actually not competing to make sure that things are up to scratch when it comes to facilities and different things in Jamaica, then I would [not compete]. We believe that we deserve to have good things, especially at a time when we are doing so well and also not to have our names tarnished,” she added.
Fraser-Pryce, who is looking to help start a forum to represent the collective voice of Jamaican athletes and to offer greater representation for the island’s track and field representatives, says that the position is widely shared by her compatriots.
When asked if she was only willing to not compete in Jamaica or whether the suggested strike would also extend to international competition, the reigning, Olympic 100m and world sprint double champion responded:
“It depends on what it is that we are standing for. If it’s a case where we are seeking support for athletes in terms of accessing information or medical support then to get the attention I would,” she told a small group of journalist here.
“When I spoke to many of the athletes, this is something that they would love to have, to have one voice where they can seek refuge because we need it to be honest,” Fraser-Pryce added.
The 26-year-old is upset that Jamaican authorities have not maximised on the success of its athletes in order to provide better facilities and social welfare for those who need it and believe that there has been little defence over the finger-pointing and questions around the country’s anti-doping programme and by extension, the ‘cleanness’ of the athletes.
“We are doing so well for our country internationally but in Jamaica our athletes are not being looked after. We are almost there and they say and do things without realising that we are the ones doing the things for our country, selling and marketing it, but why aren’t we getting the support that we should be getting. Whether it be medical, financial or whatever because a lot of our athletes are struggling before they get known to the world,” said Fraser-Pryce.
“Its also important for them as a federation and country to stand and stick beside their athletes and not say the kind of things that they say about the athletes because we are here and don’t know the circumstances with each [doping violation] case.”
“In the US and UK there are websites that allow the athletes to check their supplements and see what’s in there. Recently someone suggested that there is a lab there [Jamaica] that athletes can test their supplements at and that is not true. You have to spend out of your pockets and check something but when you make an accusation like that, you make it seem as if there are systems in place for us to check and we are not using it and that’s not true,” she blasted.
“There is no one in Jamaica looking to dope up intentionally to run fast.
What is happening is, athletes are not checking the supplements that they use, no one is intentionally cheating,” Fraser-Pryce reasoned.
Jamaica’s drug testing programme has been heavily criticised by sections of the international community particularly after former Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) head Renee Anne Shirley revealed several concerns in the local and international media.
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