Don’t forget where we are coming from

Patrick Robinson

Thursday, July 18, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Recent happenings have left us all upset and, perhaps, even downcast. But do not ever lose faith in our people. I do not believe that any of the athletes knowingly used a banned substance. While the lack of intent may not be sufficient to exonerate them, it is nonetheless a comforting affirmation of the fairness and integrity that is basic to every Jamaican.

Don't forget the foundation on which Jamaica's success in global athletics is built. It is not drugs. It is, rather, the fantastic athletic system that we Jamaicans have developed over the past 100 years. Nothing in that system invites or sanctions the use of banned substances. It is a system that produced Norman Manley, Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, Dennis Johnson, Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell Brown, Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and so many others. That system, the hallmark of which is hard work - boys and girls train for nine months to be ready for Champs - superb coaching, prodigious natural talent and volunteerism has nothing to do with drugs. It does not need drugs. For it has its own private elixir that comes from the spirited drive and struggle for achievement and excellence; that drive and struggle are part of our heritage.

It is ironic that these unfortunate events should take place when Jamaica just had the best confirmation of the high quality of its athletic system. For Jamaica to have topped the medal table (in terms of quality of medals), with six gold and two bronze medals at the recently concluded IAAF World Youth Championships, is nothing short of incredible. We actually did better than the USA, a superpower, with a population over 100 times greater than Jamaica's and immensely wealthier. Of course, the last and most successful Champs (30 records broken) gave us a warning. No one would have the audacity to suggest that our youngsters use banned substances.

So let us continue to be proud of the athletics system that we have developed through ingenuity and diligence, acknowledge the features that make it the most successful enterprise in our country, and tell the world that drugs are irrelevant to it. Let us continue to support the system and the athletes it produces. Drugs cannot tear down the walls of that system. At the same time we, the Jamaican people, the government, and the private sector must collaborate to ensure that our athletes and their coaches have at hand the best scientific tools for their use and application to protect their good names and the reputation of the country.

Patrick Robinson





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