By Robert Taylor, Special to Trackalerts.Com
The whole notion that an open hearing shows Jamaica has nothing to hide, will not change the actions of tabloid journalism. For many of these journalists, negativity sells and they will do it to their own parent if it comes to that. At least that is my view.
The headline of "Asafa admits to self injection" though true, does not give the true picture that it was vitamin B-12 was the supplement being spoken of, someone seeing the headlines will automatically assume it was steroids, most likely HGH or testosterone. Of course, this will likely draw readers. Thus for them the means justifies the end.
The hearing actually sheds light on the issue of supplements and the cost it takes to ensure it is WADA acceptable. A cost of US$2,000 is beyond the reach of many athletes from poor nations, as it is in some rich nations where athletes do not receive monetary and health coverage from their governing bodies.$2,000 is way above the monthly per-capita income of many countries is to say the least.
If supplements helps with recovery from the extremely hard work a professional athlete endures, then the situation poses great risks for those without the financial wherewithal to get these supplements tested before consumption.
This is something the IAAF, WADA and the federations need to look into. If they do not, then athletes without the financial support will be at a gross disadvantage.
This disadvantaged group entails upcoming young athletes with vast potential coming from countries as rich as the United States of America to as poor a country as say from sub-Saharan Africa.
Some countries such as Canada and England provide support to their athletes but even those athletes who are on the cusp of breaking out could be disadvantaged, because they have not reached the qualifying standards for support from their national federations as yet.
I have heard that in Great Britain, certain supplements are tested and have stamps of approval for their athletes to take. This is something the IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations) need to have done across the board.
The questions the JAAA needs to ask itself are:
(1) Who benefits from an open hearing?
(2) Very importantly, what are they going to do to ensure young inexperienced and developing stars do not fall prey to naïve and innocent decisions that causes positive tests?
(3) How will they enable their athletes to get supplements that passes the WADA test?
These questions need to be answered pronto.
As for the open hearing, I believe JADCO in its desire to get legitimacy, chose to sacrifice the athletes. The way Sherone Simpson was treated was unnecessary and shows lack of professionalism by that hearing officer.
Since Beijing 2008, JADCO has been trying to get legitimacy and have failed up to this point. The reason is stemming from the bias and out-dated thinking of many media personnel in the developed nations media. They see Jamaica as a banana republic and fail to realize that Jamaica regardless of it’s flaws is a stable democracy with a developed legal system dating back to colonial days. Even the accusation of having spies at the airport is out of touch.
The accusers fail to realize that Jamaica with a population of 2.5 million has annual tourist visits of over 1 million. Any tester could visit Jamaica and no one could differentiate whether he or she is a tourist or a tester. To say athletes cannot be found is another stupid statement in light of the three-missed test and you are banned rule.
Yet though these accusations can be debunked easily, the Jamaican federation lacks someone at the PR level to defend their image.
If Jamaica is going to have a public hearing, they should have highly trained professional who understands that they should have their egos in check as hearing officers. Very importantly, Jamaica needs to train its athletes on the art of public speaking and answering questions without giving unnecessary open-ended answer that can be left to negative interpretation.
The Asafa hearing leaves me to wonder who is advising him and looking out for his interest. The appointment of a trainer without adequate background check, the taking of supplements without proper testing, even his presentation and the information he gave seems like he was not properly prepared on what information to give and what to retain.
I see Asafa as someone who has accomplished a lot yet it seems to not be enough by many. I believe this JADCO open hearing is all about the sacrificing of an accomplished trailblazing Jamaican athlete, to benefit JADCO. Unfortunately, for JADCO, legitimacy from these people will not come anytime soon.
**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.