MONTEGO BAY, St James — the Jamaican Diaspora last night reacted with shock to the positive drug test of Olympic champion Veronica Campbell Brown, but gave her support with the hope her name would be cleared.
Meeting here in Montego Bay for the fifth staging of the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, the overseas-based Jamaicans said persons should await the facts before condemning the athlete who has over the years represented the country with distinction.
"I think that we are sensationalising the whole issue. We should wait until all the facts come out. I don't think that she or the management are stupid; and from what I have read that masking agent can be used for a lot of things. I read that she went to a dentist ,and [so] we should just wait until all the facts are in before we jump to judgment. I have all confidence that she would not have jeopardised her career and our reputation for that. It's not even an Olympic year," said Patrick Beckford, former Diaspora Advisory Board member for United States North East and a native of Trelawny.
Harold Mignott, of Philadelphia and also a former Diaspora Advisory Board member for the North East USA, said, too, that it was it's too early to make judgment.
"There are many ways that these things can happen, and there is a lot more that needs to come out before we make judgment. I am a physician and there are many ways that [the diuretic] could get into her system, so we really need to wait and see, because everything now is really speculation and it won't really do anybody any good to be making wild speculations and accusations," Mignott told the Jamaica Observer before the opening of the conference last night.
Philip Mascoll, director of the Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation, said "I think Jamaicans are too quick to condemn others".
He added: "I take a diuretic because I have slightly high blood pressure, and so I take it to remove excess water from my system. Who is to say that the lady was not doing the same thing. Let us investigate before we batter our own. So the test has proven positive.... probably she has an explanation. Don't find her guilty without trial. If she is guilty, then we will deal with it then."
Irwin Clare, Diaspora Advisory Board Member for the USA, North East, and CEO Team Jamaica Bickle, said the situation was an unfortunate occurrence and also called for the facts to be "brought to light" before condemning Campbell Brown. "However, by the main fact of the information that is out there it does not go well for the sport and the country, because usually when these things are said and the headlines are made the whole world hears about it and reactions are usually done in 'fine prints'. It really is not a good time, and we can only hope for the best, but we should not forget that she has served Jamaica well.
"The whole of athletics have been tainted with these types of situations, and I don't think that Jamaica will be treated any differently. People have gone through these things, but when we look at Veronica Campbell Brown and how Jamaican athletes have done so well drug-free, her situation; has cast a negative aspersion on the whole situation so that's where the concern is," said Clare.
On Saturday, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association Mike Fennell pleaded with the public, and the media in particular, not to jump the gun over the positive drug test. "Let us not jump to final conclusions before we have gone through the process and know exactly what the facts are," he told the Jamaica Observer.
"Based on what I read, I see people writing to say that diuretics [act as] a masking agent, but that's not the entire story, because diuretics was on the banned list before, particularly for those sports and events that have weight consideration," Fennell told the Observer.
In the meantime, a well-placed source quoted by the Observer yesterday said the situation might have grown out of proportion, saying the reports of dire consequences and banishment of up to two years could be premature.
"No serious drugs were involved, no PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) were involved, that's all I will say," the source, was quoted as saying.
Campbell Brown is expected to face a Jamaica Anti-doping Commission's panel to explain how the substance got into her system. According to the source, she could receive a three-month ban or even a public reprimand.
Campbell Brown, who has represented Jamaica with distinction as a junior and senior athlete, has won three Olympic gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the world's greatest sporting showcase — the best by any Jamaican female athlete.
She has an equally brilliant achievement in the World Championships with nine medals overall (two gold, and seven silver).