THERE’S no one in Jamaica who would reasonably expect that our athletes, based on their dominance of sprint events in international track and field over the past four years, would not be subjected to increase scrutiny, especially from anti-doping agencies.
In fact, we welcome it, as it will clear up any doubt that what the world is seeing from us now is the result of a combination of sheer talent, hard work over many years, and a desire to excel.
Those who try to suggest that our success is sudden are, at best, being disingenuous, because anyone who has been watching track and field over the years will attest to the fact that Jamaican athletes have been improving gradually. We may not have mounted the medal podium as regularly as others, but certainly our colours have occupied lanes in many finals — testament to the fact that we have, for a long time, been among the world’s best.
In fact, we hold firmly to the view that had the playing field been level many years ago, our dominance would have been felt earlier. For certainly, sprinters like Ms Merlene Ottey, Ms Juliet Cuthbert, Ms Grace Jackson, and Mr Raymond Stewart would have acquired more medals had they been competing against ‘clean’ athletes.
That was why we took umbrage to the grudgeful comments of that unfortunate little man, Mr Carl Lewis, in 2008, after Mr Usain Bolt shattered the 100-metre and 200-metre world records.
Mr Lewis, without acknowledging the fact that Mr Bolt had been posting record times at every level of the sport, sought to cast doubt on the young Jamaican’s talent and left it open for the world to speculate that performanceenhancing drugs had a role to play in Mr Bolt’s achievements in Beijing.
Mr Bolt, we remember, laughed off those comments and, in an obvious move to demonstrate how ludicrous they were, invited all who wanted to challenge him to do so, as he had nothing to fear.
With the Carl Lewis attempt turning out to be a miserable flop, up comes Mr Dick Pound, a most influential member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a former chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Mr Pound was reported as telling Reuters Television during the just-concluded London Olympics that Jamaican athletes who dominated the sprint events should expect more visits from drug testers.
Nothing wrong with that. And, as we said before, we welcome the scrutiny.
But then Mr Pound went on to make a most egregious statement in answer to a question that we found very curious.
The question, we have been informed, was whether he was happy with the way Jamaica tested its athletes. We are still trying the determine what prompted the interviewer to ask that question. However, until then, we will focus on Mr Pound’s reply: “No, they are one of the groups that are hard to test, it is (hard) to get in and find them and so forth.”
What makes Mr Pound’s allegation ridiculous is the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s (JADCo’s) revelation that they have never had a complaint from WADA that the agency was having problems locating any Jamaican athlete for testing.
In fact, the lack of merit in Mr Pound’s claim rests in JADCo’s revelation that the WADA database that holds information of all tests and missed test does not show any problem with Jamaica. Further, WADA on Wednesday stated clearly that it had no problem with Jamaica’s anti-doping procedures.
Maybe by now Mr Pound has come to realise that his allegation was, in the least, spurious. In that case, he should do the decent thing — apologise, because his pound has been devalued to a penny.