By Robert Taylor, Special to Trackalerts.Com
The termination of Dr. Paul Wright’s services with JADCO is to be commended. Reason being, you cannot have someone working with sensitive information, whether the taking of athletes’ samples or the access to information on athletes being constantly in the press.
Someone that enjoys the limelight might have hero complex and thus seek to elevate his or herself at the expense of the athletes and the organization he or she represents. Making a statement like “tip of the iceberg” shows recklessness and lack of tact to say the least. Whether that statement is wrong or right, the effects of such a declaration are all-negative. This can come across to the athletes that not only are they being attacked by the outside media with no one defending their hard work and dedication, but they also might see JADCO as a threat against their livelihood. Blatant statements like that only make the athletes’ lives more difficult. With the athletes performing all over the world and doing tests without any negative results, that statement could have caused them to fear the Jamaica testing body.
Some already openly think certain members of JADCO might sabotage them to further their own interest of being recognized and accepted as a first class testing body. A distrustful environment cannot be good for JADCO or the athletes. Importantly, any mistake will be viewed as deliberate. JADCO is already getting negative coverage from the outside media; they do not need any more accusations being thrown their way.
Dr. Wright in response to questions at the Asafa hearing put into doubt his knowledge and his credibility. He constantly put forth opinions where facts are necessary to bolster his claims. Experience of 30 years on a job for most generally means maturity; but Dr. Wright statements were more immature and ill-informed than anything else. He stated publicly that athletes can go to the university of the West Indies lab and get their supplements tested when in fact no lab in Jamaica is equipped to do the rigorous testing athletes need to ensure their supplements are WADA approved.
Dr Wright’s statement of “could be tip of the iceberg” very likely could have been taken out of context. But for a man serving for thirty years, there is no excuse. How can someone who has so many years of experience be so naïve? I think his hunger and thirst for publicity superseded his responsibility to do his job in a professional manner without exacerbating an already hostile foreign media situation. Dr. Wright should have known he is not media savvy enough. Yet he continued to be the face of JADCO. It very well could have been a decision made by the JADCO’s board. If so, correcting that mistake could not have come any sooner.
It is also time for JADCO as an organization to realize that the only way one gets credibility is to do a professional job and leave publicity to the athletes. A Public Hearing serves no purpose and having officers give opinions before deliberating on their findings do not help their cause. Like Dr. Wright who I believe was wrong on so many occasions, the JADCO board needs to realize the open hearings are fiascos that need to end. Their job is to ensure the junior and senior athletes are educated on the pitfalls of accidental or deliberate consumption of performance enhancing drugs. How to avoid such pitfalls should be given more priority than the negative foreign press coverage. JADCO should understand by now that transparency does not necessarily mean public hearing. Transparency is all about educating the athletes, doing enough all-inclusive random tests in and out of season and ensures clean athletes do not lose out to unscrupulous ones. Doing a good job is all that can be required and those who choose to go negative will find ways for justification. As long as Jamaican athletes continue to perform above more powerful nations, the accusations will not stop. So JADCO, get used to the criticism, just concentrate on doing the job at the highest standard that WADA demand of all testing bodies.
The firing of Dr. Wright is a good start, hope from here on, professionalism becomes a staple of JADCO.
**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.