By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
I remember being a young kid in high school when a particular teacher would always quote Murphy’s Law “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Fast forward to the 2015 Jamaica High School Championship also known as Champs and the new drug testing policy.
To me, everything seems to be shrouded in secrecy. No one knows who is paying for the tests, how many athletes are going to be tested, and the age limit that will determine who gets tested. I could be the only one in the dark, but those I seek information from seem just as ignorant as I am.
There are definitely pitfalls that parents, schools, and coaches need to be aware of. I remember one of the things that came out of the Veronica Campbell-Brown hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS); the fact that divergent athletes from different training camp tested positive for the same thing help to confirm the belief that one of the tester quite possible unknowingly contaminated the samples. Taking this possibility of unwitting contamination, each year the young athletes take open drinks from meet ushers after each race.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of cups that are filled with whatever drinks the athletes get for rehydration. It is not as if each school has sole responsibility to prepare and distribute drinks to their athletes. With so many cups being passed around, there is no way adequate protection is put in place to protect the young athletes from error of judgment. Someone could be on medication that has elements that is prohibited by WADA and somehow unknowingly get a small amount in a few drinks.
If the drinks are handed to athletes from the same school can you imagine what will happen to the school's and coach's reputation? With the history of the Jamaica anti-doping body (JADCO) aggressive stance and grandstanding in some cases, quite possible, proper investigation would not happen because it is a lot easier to say guilty than to prove innocence.
With a fear of possible contamination from others than the athlete, I for one believe a policy of sealed bottles should be the standard for the meet organizers when they are providing refreshments for the athletes. Each school should be responsible for a drink that replenishes electrolytes etc. Thus, mixed drinks or cup drinks such as Gatorade should be prepared by each school and they alone have sole responsibility to get it to their athletes.
Properly educated school managers and coaches should know to ask the relevant questions of their volunteers and alumni who are around the athletes providing assistance. The fact that there was the excuse of poverty for the lack of adequate professional athletes testing, then to find high school athletes were going to be tested make thoughts of conspiracy imminent.
The secrecy surrounding information about the testing is bad enough. I find it stupid to not publicly disclose all the relevant facts. It gives the appearance of intentions that are counterproductive to the Jamaican high school athletes. Fear of accusation from outsider should not be Jamaica's governing body main concern. For example, look at the British, no other country matches their sanctimonious outcry for lifetime ban; yet they have two athletes that they are considering giving the most lenient judgment available and they both tested positive for something far more powerful than stimulant.
If history is any guide and if the early season performances is a predictor, this year Champs should be very exciting with records falling. It would be a shame to have it marred by positive test for innocent victims. It is even more egregious when one considers the fact that these are kids and not professionals and most parents lack the wherewithal to defend their children.
Since the testing is a forgone conclusion, the meet directors and JADCO should not only educate but set up a fool proof system that will ensure the kids do not pay for mistakes made by adults. A way to start is to get rid of the open or unsealed containers use for distributing drinks to the young athletes.
**The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, TrackAlerts.Com