Sport

Asafa to appeal 18-month ban at Court of Arbitration for Sport

Unjust!

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 11, 2014    

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FORMER 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, who was yesterday slapped with an 18-month suspension by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary panel, blasts the sanction as "unfair and unjust".

The athlete has indicated that he will be appealing the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have the ruling overturned, or the length of the ban reduced.

Powell, 31, who was not present at the hearing at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston, will be eligible to compete on December 20, 2014. The retroactive suspension actually started from the day his sample was taken at the Jamaica National Championship on June 21, 2013.

But in a statement released by his publicist Tara Playfair-Scott yesterday, Powell expressed his disappointment at the ruling, noting that it is the first time in his 12 years in the sport and after over 150 tests that he had an adverse analytical finding.

"This ruling is not only unfair, it is patently unjust. Panels such as these, I understood, were assembled to allow athletes who, consciously or unconsciously, come into conflict with the rules of sport, a chance at equitable redemption. Unfortunately, this was not the case," the statement said, in part.

Powell, who has a personal best of 9.72 seconds over 100 metres, will be 32 years old when the ban is lifted and will miss this year's inaugural World Relays and the Commonwealth Games, where he won his only individual gold medal in 2006.

Lennox Gayle, who chaired the anti-doping panel, said having listened to, reviewed and dissected all the evidence, they arrived at a unanimous decision.

With anticipation, expectation and suspense at a high level, in the quiet conference room, Gayle, an attorney, carefully selected his words, reminiscent of former Prime Minister and Queen's Counsel PJ Patterson.

"In all the circumstances, Mr Powell was found to be negligent and that he was at fault, especially in light of the fact that he being an elite athlete, and it is our decision that the period of ineligibility will be 18 months commencing from the date of the sample collection. Our reasons for this decision will follow in due course," said Gayle.

By this time, the silence was broken, with the use of smart phones and laptops by journalists who were busy disseminating information to various media outlets, both local and overseas. The social media network went into a frenzy at the news.

But Powell's poker-faced lead attorney, Kwame Gordon, was again not amused and he took a swipe at the three-member panel completed by former FIFA referee Peter Prendergast and Dr Jephthah Ford, indicating their decision will be appealled.

"I am going to say two things and I hope that will satisfy your desire to hear from his attorney first," said Gordon, when asked about his thoughts on the decision.

"We are disappointed that, having had two months to review the matter, we have no written reasons and the sanction would imply that the athlete is being held at a certain standard. Well, it would have been appropriate if the panel had applied the same standard to themselves and provided us with written reasons," he noted.

"The second thing is that we do not agree with the award and just like in the Sherone (Simpson) matter, we are taking it to the next level," Gordon stated.

Powell, along with his former MVP teammate Simpson, who was on Tuesday given an 18-month ban also, are represented by the law firm Samuda and Johnson and both athletes have made it clear they will be taking their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to have their bans reduced or overturned.

In February, Veronica Campbell Brown had a two-year ban overturned by the CAS, and both Powell and Simpson will be hoping for a more favourable outcome in their efforts at appeal.

Powell has broken the 10-second barrier at least 81 times, the most in the history of the 100m race. He has been at the forefront of Jamaican sprinting, putting Jamaica back on the map following the retirement of Raymond Stewart, Lennox Miller and Donald Quarrie, before one Usain Bolt took speed running to unprecedented levels.

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