Briana Williams anti-doping hearing begins today

By Howard Walker
Senior staff reporter

Monday, September 23, 2019

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It will be a nerve-racking three days for young Briana Williams as her in-camera anti-doping case starts today. It concludes on Wednesday, but because of its private nature, authorities have refused to identify the location for the hearing.

The 17-year-old double Under-20 World champion was found to have the banned diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide in her system when she was tested at Jamaica's National Senior Championships (Trials) in June.

Williams, who is widely considered one of the most exciting track and field prospects, clocked a personal best and Jamaican National Junior record of 10.94 seconds to finish third at the Trials to provisionally earn a place on Jamaica's team to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar, which starts on Friday.

Nevertheless, she was named by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in Jamaica's team with the women's 100m scheduled to start on Saturday.

The Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel chaired by attorney Kent Gammon, and including Dr Majorie Vassell and Denise Forrest, will monitor the case.

The Florida-based Williams, who is in the island, will be represented by Dr Emir Crowne, a reputed international sports law expert.

The Trinidadian had previously represented Jamaicans Dominique Blake and Riker Hylton in recent anti-doping hearings.

Young Williams is said to have declared taking a cold medicine, Pharma Cold and Flu during the Jamaican Championships, which was given to her by her mother Sharon Simpson. Her camp has claimed that the over-the-counter pills were contaminated with elements of the diuretic.

If found guilty, Williams could face a maximum ban of four years, but Dr Crowne is expected to employ a “no-fault” defence.

“If we went down the no-fault route, which is under the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] code and JADCO (Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission) rules, the no-fault route gets the alleged anti-doping violation completely eliminated and she keeps her results,” he told the Jamaica Observer recently.

Failing that, however, Dr Crowne said: “The second route is 'no signification fault' or negligence, and in that section there is a special subsection that deals with contaminated products and the penalty range in that subsection is reprimand, up to two years. I would then ask for a reprimand and I think it's a reasonable ask in light of it truly [being] contaminated, and it's a minor and it was declared on the doping control form. But the problem is, even if she gets a reprimand she would lose her results from the JAAA National Championships.”

Born in the United States of America, Williams is the world age-15 record holder, the world youth (Under-18) and age-17 record holder, and the Jamaican junior (Under-20) record holder in the women's 100 metres.

She earned gold medals in the 100 metres, the 200 metres, and the 4100 metres relay at the 2018 Carifta Games in the Under-17 category, setting championship records in the 100 metres and 4100 metres relay, earning her the Games' Austin Sealy award.

Later that year she became the youngest girl ever to win both the 100 metres and the 200 metres at the 2018 IAAF World Under-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland, and for her athletics achievements in 2018 she was nominated for the IAAF Female Rising Star and the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year awards.

At the 2019 Carifta Games Williams again tripled in the 100m, 200m, and 4100m relay to win three gold medals in the Under-20 category and was the first Jamaican to earn the Games' Austin Sealy award two years in a row since Usain Bolt in 2004.

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