By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.com
How does a minor stimulant for a first time offender, which would have been ok to use on another day, amount to an eighteen months ban?
I have seen athletes caught with other stimulants, get 3 to 6 months ban, now Sherone Simpson and Asafa Powell get 18 months ban.
From the way the hearing was handled, from it being public to the grandstanding of one hearing officer, I knew the writing was on the wall.
I am wondering if JADCO expect the British media and others to get off their back. As an independent nation and drug control body, should not doing the job to WADA standard be enough.
Why the need to prove they have nothing to hide? Is it that colonialist mentality is alive and well so the feeling of inferiority remains strong?
The British media on a whole thrive on tabloid journalism. Even BBC a respected media house has joined the fray. Accusations while rampant cannot be overcome with trying to prove to people who do not care about the truth, following WADA and IAAF guidelines with trained professionals is the way I believe.
I am not saying Sherone or Asafa should be let off with a warning. They are both experienced athletes who have been competing for years., they are not in a position to get sympathy because of youth and or naïveté.
What comes out of the hearing points to stupidity and risk taking, especially taking injections from someone with no qualification or certification to justify such trust. Are they as innocent as they are saying? Hard to tell if they knowingly went over the legal boundary to enhance performance or if they innocently consumed the stimulant.
With all the innocent pleas by the guilty over the years, I fully understand the skepticism, but why the harsh penalty of 18 months when no other country applies such sentences to minor offenses?
They have already lost a full season, why the need to give more punishment when there is no record of an athlete getting this length of time for a first time stimulant offense. The fact that this stimulant would not have been an issue anytime out of competition causes me to believe this is not considered a major drug by WADA.
It is said Sherone and Asafa were negligent in consuming the stimulant. The rule is that an athlete is responsible for what he or she ingests but does this case amount to 18 months ban. I have been looking up on drug suspension and yet to see first time stimulant offender getting as much as an eighteen months ban.
Sherone Simpson and Asafa Powell's athletic career is on the decline, so the various bodies in Jamaica might not see this as a great loss. For me it is not what is good for any team or anyone but what is fair to all athletes. Fairness and consistency should be a staple for any disciplinary system if that system is be respected.
Why would IAAF and WADA allow one country to mete out punishment inconsistent with the punishment given by other countries for a similar offense? Do the decision makers in Jamaica expect gains in the long run from this ruling? Do they really believe Sports Illustrated, NBC sports or the any of the British notorious tabloid media will give them positive coverage for giving the harshest penalty?
I find myself unable to understand or respect the decisions surrounding this case, notwithstanding the culpability of the two athletes. The final decision has been made and all involved have to move forward. A lesson is there to be learned but who will learn it?
I hope that those in Jamaica responsible for educating the athletes about drug use, emphasize the importance of a stellar image and how negligent or malicious behavior, will either taint or stop their career.
I hope they start at primary/prep school level and ensure that the young athletes are educated both academically and about the pitfalls of drugs and the best ways and methods to avoid it. If not, they will be revisiting more negligent or naïve or unethical actions by athletes in the future. Then the cycle of negative coverage will continue and the need to show JADCO or Jamaica has nothing to hide becoming a constant.
**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.