By Robert Taylor, Special to Trackalerts.Com
Why is Jamaica allowing the Sherone Simpson hearing to be a public spectacle? Other countries have their hearing, make their decision and go public with their ruling. Sometimes WADA or IAAF might challenge the ruling and say it is too light. Otherwise, the decision is posted on IAAF website.
Jamaica, for whatever the reason, chooses to have a public spectacle with a hearing officer deciding to volunteer his opinion instead of sticking to the job of a hearing officer. I have never seen such grandstanding outside of politicians seeking political mileage from a bad situation or bad incident in a long time. Many, including me, have the belief that the public hearing decision has to do with the decidedly biased negative reports coming chiefly from the British media. I would think cooler heads would prevail in Jamaica where the impetus should be to educate the athletes especially the young upcoming athletes, work with WADA and the IAAF to set up a reliable testing system while preparing all the athletes for a future of extreme scrutiny. Trying to prove something to those who have an agenda of negative coverage is a waste of time in my humble opinion.
Having public hearing is unfair to the athletes in many ways. For one, no other IAAF member does it and it also put pressure on the hearing body to give impression they are tough when there is no need to prove toughness. All they have to do is weigh the evidence, arrive at their decision and issue sanctions within the WADA and IAAF guidelines if necessary.
The Sherone Simpson and Asafa Powell situation is one of stimulant. How is it possible to prove they took it for unfair advantage? They might or they might not. Based on the grandstanding position of the particular hearing officer, the hearing body could very likely move to give a punishment so extreme it was never before meted out to a first time offender whose indiscretion is stimulant. To say they are innocent or guilty is hard, but that is the job of those who control the hearing. Deliberately taking stimulant seems dumb because of the cost benefit factor. Nevertheless, far too many athletes in all sports have shown that thoughtful or wise decision is not a given.
Members of the Jamaica federation and testing body, I believe do a poor job in giving their side of the story regardless how difficult a task it might be. They need to have belief and pride in themselves and understand that there should be no need to prove anything to any foreign press. All that is required is that they do what is right, use due diligence, educate their athletes, punish who deserve punishment within the IAAF and WADA guidelines and stay away from making a public spectacle of their athletes and organization. Avoiding public hearing is a good step. Playing to tabloid journalism will not help their cause. From what I have seen so far, it only serves to embarrass the athletes whether they are guilty or innocent. A ruling is enough; it will embarrass those who are judged guilty.
**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