Dominique Blake finally returns bronze medal

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 23, 2017

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After years of resistance, Jamaica's quarter-miler Dominique Blake handed over the 4x400m relay medal she was erroneously presented with, having never competed in the heats or the final of the event at the 2012 Olympics.

The 29-year-old Blake handed over the bronze medal to Mike Fennell, the outgoing president of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) early yesterday morning and is now eligible to compete at the National Senior Championships currently under way inside the National Stadium.

“I received it this morning (Thursday). I have confirmed receipt to the JAAA and her attorney. She brought it in and gave it to me personally,” Fennell told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Blake was a part of Jamaica's 4x400m relay pool of six athletes to the London Olympics in 2012, but she did not compete in the heats or the final and was erroneously given a medal by the team management.

Jamaica had won their heats in 3:25.13 minutes with Christine Day, Shereefa Lloyd, Shericka Williams and Rosemarie Whyte. Then Novlene Williams-Mills came in for Lloyd in the final and they finished third in 3:20.95 minutes. The gold medal went to the USA in 3:16.87 minutes, with Russia second in 3:20.23 minutes. Blake was the only athlete in the pool of six who never touched the track.

On Wednesday, Fennell revealed that the JOA had been trying for five years to persuade Blake to return the medal but it had fallen on deaf ears.

“What was reported to me by the team management is that she said she was not giving back the medal. It was explained to her that a mistake was made and she was given a medal to which she was not entitled because she did not run at all and she said, 'she was not giving it back'. That was what was reported to me,” said Fennell.

Dr Warren Blake, president of the JAAA, who had barred Blake from competing unless she returned the medal, said he was happy she complied.

“It was handed over early in the morning. I wasn't there when it was handed over but my understanding is that she took it herself to the offices of the JOA. So, problem solved,” he told the Observer.

“I think the public feedback was so negative that she decided she would not survive. She had to do what's right. After the sanction you must return the medal plus she never earned it,” Dr Blake reiterated.

“We have heard that other athletes in the past had gotten medals by just being in the pool. That shouldn't be so, but it had happened before more often then we think,” he explained.

Blake returned to the track in January following a four-year ban after she tested positive for the banned substance methylhexaneamine at the Jamaican Olympics trials for London 2012.

On Wednesday, Dr Blake pleaded with Blake to return the medal or she would not face the starter at the National Championships.

“She needs to comply with the terms of the rules of the IAAF. If you have tested positive for a substance your sanction includes the return of all the medals, prize monies, ribbons, whatever you might have gotten. She has not done that,” he pointed out.

“If she turns up and says here is the medal, we say here is your package and then she goes to the championship to run and earn a place on the team. Go to London and win a medal for herself. Properly earn a medal, that's what she needs to do and remain drug-free,” said Dr Blake.

According to Jamaica's athletics boss, Dominique Blake was in double trouble because she did not earn the medal, plus she had failed a drug test, hence two reasons why she had to return the medal.

“The rules clearly stated if you have violated the anti-doping rules you need to return all the medals you have gotten. She said it's her medal because of her selection. But she forfeited the medal when she committed the doping offence,” Dr Blake argued.

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