We agree, Messrs Fennell and Mills

Monday, June 17, 2013

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We do not believe we are overreacting when we say that reports of the adverse analytical finding on a drug test involving Mrs Veronica Campbell Brown have come like a sledgehammer blow for Jamaicans.

For Mrs Campbell Brown is no ordinary person. She is easily Jamaica's most decorated and respected female athlete and among our leading Olympians.

Of humble beginnings, Mrs Campbell Brown has excelled through hard work, determination and great talent. For more than a decade she has been a Jamaican flag bearer, not just on the track but in every respect. She has been a wonderful symbol of Jamaican womanhood. It's not by accident that she is among UNESCO's goodwill ambassadors.

Against that backdrop comes the news that a test conducted in May by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) shows Mrs Campbell Brown positive for a substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list.

Obviously, the adverse finding will provide fuel for those who have long questioned the extraordinary success of Jamaica's sprint programme. There may even be cynical gloating in some quarters across the globe.

On the other hand, we are well aware that among fiercely loyal Jamaicans there are conspiracy theories being circulated. In the circumstances, this newspaper thinks it best for all of us to follow the lead provided by president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Mr Mike Fennell, and minister with responsibility for sport Natalie Neita-Headley and await "due process".

Let us not jump to conclusions. Let's all wait to hear from Mrs Campbell Brown herself and the conclusions of the hearing to come.

We commiserate with the athlete, her family and loved ones for whom the present time must be especially difficult.

Also, as with everything in life, there are lessons to be learned. Those in charge of sport and drug testing locally and globally have repeatedly said that sportsmen and women must take responsibility for whatever enters their bodies. For that reason, they must at all times be absolutely vigilant.

We well remember the case of Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who, in 2010, copped a six-month ban following an adverse analytical finding. It turned out then that she had taken medication for a toothache. She was punished though it was confirmed that the offensive substance was a narcotic. It was not performance-enhancing nor was it a masking agent.

Celebrated coach Mr Glen Mills perhaps phrased it best on radio when he described the situation as regards prohibited and banned drugs as "a minefield" for athletes.

It seems to us that in a "minefield" our athletes need all the support they can get.

As we have said before in this space, it is incumbent on staff including coaches and managers, as well as relatives and friends to be very, very vigilant in protecting athletes.

We also agree with Mr Mills that it's about time laboratory facilities are established in Jamaica which will help athletes determine what's "clean" and what is not. For it's no secret that there are many instances of medication, food and drink being inadequately labelled in terms of content.

Our athletes need us to be watching their backs.




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