By Laurie Foster, Special to 

Foster’s Fumes will stoutly defend the label it has pinned on one of the most decent individuals, in this columnist’s view, to represent Brand Jamaica. Those not in tune, might contest the tribute, because of a regrettable incident involving the nominee, Michael Holding, during a cricket test match in New Zealand, several years ago. There is no quarrel there, but that aside, the opinion is expressed, that much has been done by the former electrifying fast bowler, to erase that memory.

Following disaffection with a claim made by a fellow columnist, Mikey, as he is affectionately called, felt that his character had been tainted. The scribe wrote, in reference to the West Indies Board dispute with some of its players, following the India tour walkout, “The dishonesty and shallowness of thought that characterize the brittle defence being put forward to support the players' actions, coming from the likes of………………. Michael Holding, a former player……” The dots represent another player, similarly charged. Legal redress was sought. However, the matter was settled without a court battle, monetary compensation offered and accepted.

Thankfully, Holding is clothed in high end values handed down by parents, referred to, with similar reverence, as Sir Ralph and Lady Enid. Older sisters, Rheima (a former Island First Lady) and Dr. Marjorie, have maintained by their influence. The way forward was cast in concrete. Subsequently, it was reported that the former fast bowler, called Whispering Death during his career, had made a most gratifying pledge. A part of his windfall from the settlement, would go to his Alma Mater, Kingston College. This, in the opinion of Foster’s Fairplay, is a noble, if not surprising, deed.

Further reports reveal, that two of Jamaica’s track and field athletes, Powell and Simpson, had been financially empowered, again from an out-of-court decision. They too, if the applause that follows the call of their names at events, counts for much, qualify for the tag “highly favoured.” Their accomplishments, like Holding’s are of world elite standard. That said, the events leading up were of a different colour.

Despite shouts from overseas voices, of “not enough scrutiny of Jamaica’s best” they produced positive samples, when tested for forbidden substances. The fact that there was no indication on the labeling, as to their presence, was of no moment. The supplement in question was Epiphany D1 which contained the banned drug, oxilofrine. Under world body dictates, drugs in system meant one over arching thing – the performer is ultimately responsible. The verdict was guilty, as charged.

They copped 18-month bans which were later reduced on appeal to six months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). It was in an attempt to salvage a damaged reputation, that the matter was taken to the higher court and following that, the revelation came that the company that sold the substance to the athletes had delivered monetary compensation. The Michael Holding situation duplicated.

Although it cannot be argued that it is “business as usual” in the lives of Powell and Simpson, the focus here is that monies of unpublished quantity, are now in or close to pocket. In an after speech, the 2008 Olympics 100m joint silver medallist in that famous Jamaica 1-2-2, Simpson has mentioned that no amount of money can atone for injury to their reputation. That is a well rehearsed declaration in these circumstances, albeit absolutely accurate. It also ups the ante in respect of what any erring company would be asked to “fork out.” The athletes’ Agent, Paul Doyle is as skilled as they come in the business that he does, and has been quite vocal in the entire matter. With that in mind, adding that both athletes are in the evening of their careers and what is seen – big bucks.

Both Powell and Simpson come from high school track and field programs where “a little financial support’’ can make a big difference. That is an all-encompassing call? Charlemount and Manchester High would, without even investigation, welcome a royal handshake-Mikey-style.

This columnist does not seek to “twist the arms” of ‘Safa and Sherone. But, frequently, there is talk of what if this or that athlete, had the support to chart a meaningful response to awesome talent.

Give them that boost.


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