Editorial

Briana out but support for J'cans in Doha still high

Saturday, September 28, 2019

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This newspaper takes note of reports that Miss Briana Williams would have been ineligible for competition at the IAAF World Championships even had she made the trip to Doha in time for today's start of the women's sprints.

We are now hearing that even though she escaped with a reprimand following the just-ended anti-doping rule violation hearing in Kingston, the fact of her positive drug test at Jamaica's national trials in June would have rendered her ineligible in any case.


That apart, it seems to us that so tight were the timelines it was always going to be difficult to get Miss Williams to far-away Doha in good-enough time for today's start of competition.


In any case, after the trauma of recent weeks, the 17-year-old could hardly be in the best place mentally and psychologically for competition, and for the negative responses that would inevitably flow.


This newspaper contends, however, that even if the athletic authority, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), got it wrong, legally or otherwise, by selecting Miss Williams, the move probably did her a world of good.


It signalled to the teenager, who is a minor in the care of adults, that the principle of innocent until proven guilty is alive and well, and further that her country had not abandoned her in the face of extreme adversity.


Those basic principles are very important, we think.


As it was the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel which ruled that, while Miss Williams tested positive for a banned substance, the diuretic, hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), she “had established no significant fault or negligence as she was given tablets by her guardian and had no intentions to cheat in her in-competition sprint event on the 21st June, 2019”.


Readers will recall news reports that Miss Williams' mother had given her daughter medication to fight cold and flu symptoms. The pills turned out to be contaminated, they claimed.


The anti-doping panel said, “In the circumstances of this case, the athlete is reprimanded without any period of ineligibility.”
At the same time, the panel recommended that Miss Williams undergoes another education programme on the Anti-Doping in Sport Rules.
That last cannot be emphasised enough.
As was said recently in this space in relation to Miss Williams, and repeatedly down the years, athletes, coaches, backroom staff, family members, and friends must always do their utmost to ensure competitors remain clean.
The authorities have been abundantly clear for a very long time that those in competitive sport must take full responsibility for whatever enters their bodies.
However, it is obvious that athletes will always need the support of those around them — more so in the case of a minor.
Miss Williams' case provides one more reminder for everyone to take heed and take care. In the timeless, inimitable manner of Jamaica's folk language they should “tek sleep mark death”.
All that said, this newspaper takes this opportunity to wish all athletes well — regardless of their country of origin — at the IAAF World Athletics Championships which started yesterday in Doha.
As has become customary for Jamaican teams in track and field competition, expectations are high. However, Jamaica's athletes should know that, regardless of results, their best is all anyone can reasonably ask.


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