Why punish Mr Smikle, JADCO?
NEWS that Jamaican athlete Mr Travis Smikle has been slapped with a two-year ban by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) has opened the agency to question.
The case, as we understand it, is that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) determined that the sample taken from Mr Smikle was contaminated, in much the same manner as that of Mrs Veronica Campbell Brown, whom the CAS exonerated some months ago.
The CAS judgement in Mrs Campbell Brown's case, in reference to Mr Smikle, noted that he "tested positive after providing a partial sample that was collected in violation of the WADA IST and the 2011 Regulations on 22 June 2013".
Our understanding is that Mr Smikle provided a partial urine sample after competing at the National Stadium, but the partial collection procedure did not meet the required standard.
Now, after the CAS found that this failure to observe the correct collection procedure led to contamination sample, the question is why is Mr Smikle being punished?
For surely, just as happened in Mrs Campbell Brown's case, the burden of proof of a doping violation has been shifted, in keeping with International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules.
We wonder, therefore, who JADCO is trying to impress. For we have seen where other Jamaican athletes have been subjected to harsh sanctions for very minor infractions.
Take, for instance, the cases of Mr Asafa Powell and Ms Sherone Simpson who were both found guilty of taking stimulants. JADCO, in an apparent moment of overzealousness, banned them for 18 months each.
Compare that to Mr Tyson Gay, the American sprinter, whose ban for taking performance-enhancing steroids was reduced from two years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, allowing him to return to competition this week.
Quite correctly, Mr Powell and Ms Simpson have appealed to the CAS, arguing that the offence they committed is minor and have asked that the suspension be reduced to three months.
The CAS has upheld a stay of execution in their suspension and is to review their cases next week.
It seems that after the imbroligio caused by Ms Anne Shirley last year in relation to JADCO the agency is trying too hard to win international respect.
Nothing is wrong with taking tough decisions. In fact, JADCO should do just that when athletes are found guilty of serious breaches of doping codes.
What JADCO needs to ensure, however, is that its decisions are just and can stand any challenge.