NATIONAL 800m champion Ricardo Cunningham yesterday escaped with only a reprimand from the Jamaica Anti-doping Disciplinary Commission at a hearing at the Jamaica Conference Centre after he returned a positive test for the prohibited substance pseudo-ephedrine at last June's National Senior Championships.
The panel of Kent Pantry, Juliet Cuthbert and Dr Jephthah Ford decided the athlete's fate at the hearing which had been postponed twice before at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
The athlete won the 800m at last year's championships, but later was found to have tested positive for the substance which is an ingredient in cough and cold medicines.
Cunningham had witnesses, including doctors and other "pharmaceutical back-up" to provide evidence that he was suffering from a cold at the time of the trials and took medication for the ailment which accounted for the minimal levels of the substance found in his system.
According to the World Anti-doping Association (WADA) Code, Cunningham could have received a sanction ranging from a reprimand to up to two years for this his first offence.
His MVP Track and Field Club coach, Paul Francis, who was present with Cunningham at yesterday's hearing, told the Jamaica Observer that justice had been done.
"It was a justifiable result. He is not a cheat and we are happy he did not get the harsh, harsh hand of the law reserved for cheats," he said.
Despite winning at the trials, Cunningham was not selected as part of the team to the London Olympics after failing to make the qualifying standard.
It was later revealed that he had failed the drug test.
"The most important thing is that he now understands we have to be careful what we put into our bodies," said Francis.
Dominique Blake, the 400m athlete who also tested positive at the Jamaican Olympic trials, will face the disciplinary panel on March 21.