Dr Wright urges drug cheats to shape up

Dr Wright urges drug cheats to shape up

We’ll catch you!

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Print this page Email A Friend!

THE Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCo) doping control officer, Dr Paul Wright, issued a warning to athletes, some of whom he believes are taking undetectable performance-enhancing drugs.

Dr Wright, who was addressing a Kiwanis Club of Kingston's luncheon held recently on the grounds of the National Chest Hospital in St Andrew, assured that time will catch up with those who flout the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

"We are going to catch everybody," he said when asked about the possibility of some athletes effectively masking illegal substances in their body.

"We all know that there are chemists who change around these steroids. All you have to do is change one of the wings of these steroids, it will have the same effect and it's undetectable. If you are going to detect that in somebody's urine, the computer has to recognise it and that is where you have to feed standards into the computer that the computer can recognise. If there isn't a standard, it can't recognised," the outspoken drug-testing expert told a throng of reporters.

Dr Wright, a former chairman of the Caribbean Football Union medical committee, believes that the mainstream use of the much-heralded biological passport, which is a sophisticated electronic system of record-keeping for professional athletes, will level the playing field.

"As a result of taking these samples and [athletes] doing these untoward activities certain blood parameters may change. You may get a whole raft of changes. That is why the biological passport is such a vital part of the armament in [fighting doping in] sport," he explained.

In the meantime, Dr Wright said 100- and 200-metre world record holder and six-time Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt remains a beam of hope in the sport, hit particularly hard in recent times by revelations of positive tests from a number of elite athletes.

The sports medicine specialist said the entire country -- he included -- would suffer from infinite distress should Bolt's name fall on the wrong side of any drug test.

"Usain Bolt has been tested more often, I think, than all of the athletes in Jamaica, and he is well aware of his importance to the sport.

"I remember, and this is a quote from Usain, 'if I test positive, the whole Jamaica dead' and that is true. As I told another interviewer, I said I would drop down dead. There is so much on it and he is well aware of his responsibilities. If Usain tests positive, the whole Jamaica dead, we all know that," Wright said animatedly.

Jamaica's sprint queen Veronica Campbell Brown, former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell, and Beijing Olympics silver medallist Sherone Simpson are among those who recently returned adverse analytical findings.

All three have expressed the intent to prove their innocence.

In the case of Powell and Simpson, fingers have been pointed at the possibility of stimulants unknowingly embedded in supplements they took.

But the physician, in his typical no-nonsense style, said athletes should be wary of supplements which boast of providing "an edge" in performance.

"Every athlete is looking for that edge and the edge is to be found in training, proper diet and getting fit. There is no edge. If somebody says something gives you an edge and it works, that edge [is] banned," he charged.

"I have heard over and over that I'm harsh. I suspect I have to be harsh because the education process that these people go through is comprehensive [and] it is regular," he added.

He said he understands the consternation, disbelief and subsequent denial in some quarters that Jamaica's finest athletes could be found guilty of any wrongdoing. He added that 'B' sample tests at the WADA laboratories are unlikely to clear their names.

"I understand pretty fully what happens when a prominent person tests positive. It is never that person's fault. It must be the drug-tester's fault, the authorities' fault, or some unknown man in the twilight who has spiked his urine or has given him something while he was asleep.

"The 'A' samples reported as positives are those that the labs have gone over and over to make sure they get the same result. So the 'B' sample can't miss. Waiting for a 'B' sample is a waste of time and money," he said, while adding that Jamaica is on a WADA watch list along with countries like Russia, Kenya, Turkey and China due to outstanding performances, particularly in the sprint events.

Dr Wright also targeted the controversial topic of drug-testing at the high school level. He said that youngsters need to be educated and become familiar with anti-doping intricacies and argued that success-hungry adults should be held accountable for exploiting school boys and girls.

"I don't want them (students) to be suspended or fined ...what I want them to do is to understand the parameters on the world stage. Like these are the things you have to stay away from, these are the people who are going to approach you and you have to say no.

"To those naysayers who don't want drug testing in youth, we are going to run into problems...with the pressure being put on them [students] by unscrupulous people who want to win.

"We need to find out if people are giving children these things [substances] because we don't know what the effect is and what will happen when they turn adults," he said, while continuing with some emphasis that expensive drugs are beyond the affordability of normal schoolchildren.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon