Sport

Don't jump the gun!

Fennell urges all to await facts in VCB drug case

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 16, 2013    

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PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) Mike Fennell is pleading with the public, and the media in particular, not to jump the gun over the Veronica Campbell Brown (left) positive drug test.

"Based on what I read, I see people writing to say that diuretics is 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 Jamaica Observer yesterday.

"It was also discovered that some of the diuretics can be used as masking agents, but that's not the principal reason why they are on the banned list. That's the distinction that is important to understand," he emphasised.

Campbell Brown, 31, the country's most successful female athlete with a total of 18 World and Olympic medals, has tested positive for a banned substance. Her 'B' sample confirmed the finding of the 'A' sample following her participation at the Jamaica Invitational meet in May.

"This is very shocking news. It is very difficult to receive at this time. There is no question that news like this, if not properly controlled, can be very damaging to Jamaica," Fennell reiterated.

"First, we have to think of the welfare of the individual involved. Let us not jump to final conclusions before we have gone through the process and know exactly what the facts are," he added.

If Campbell Brown is found guilty, it would be a serious blow to Jamaica's reputation as the powerhouse of world sprinting and would inevitably cast suspicion over the great work her compatriots, including Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce have done recently.

"It is very damaging to the sport because internationally the sport has had a lot of bad news and, certainly in the past few months, the bad news has been with other sports, particularly cycling," Fennell pointed out.

"In the case of VCB, she is a person that is considered to be a model, therefore it's not just any other athlete; she is a star, highly decorated and, therefore, the impact is greater than anything else," he noted.

"I would appeal to everybody, including the media, let us marshal all the track figures before we start drawing our conclusions, because it is a very explosive situation and can be very damaging to the athlete, to Jamaica, her family and to the sport of athletics," said Fennell.

The list of drugs banned from the Olympics is determined by the World Anti-Doping Agency, established in 1999, to deal with the increasing problem of doping in sports.

The banned substances and techniques fall into the following categories: androgens, blood doping, peptide hormones, stimulants, diuretics, narcotics, and cannabinoids. The use of alcohol (ethanol) is banned in selected sports only during actual competition.

A diuretic is any substance that promotes the production of urine. There are several categories of diuretics. All diuretics increase the excretion of water from bodies, although each class does so in a distinct way.

Diuretics that increase the production of urine are also considered masking agents, and which interfere with drug tests, are banned for two reasons. First, by decreasing water retention and thus decreasing an athlete's weight and increasing the speed, an important consideration in many speed sports.

Secondly, increased urine production depletes the concentration of both the banned drugs and their metabolites, making their detection more difficult. Masking agents, on the other hand, work by making drug tests ineffective, leading to false-negative results.

In medicine, diuretics are used to treat heart failure, liver cirrhosis, hypertension and certain kidney diseases, and are often abused by sufferers of eating disorders, especially bulimics, in attempts at weight loss.

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