The withdrawal of 400m hurdler, the Stephen Francis-coached, Janeive Russell from Rio Olympics competition, first thought to be for health reasons, has turned up some startling revelations.
Russell, who boasts a 3rd world ranked, season best of 53.96 seconds from the Rome DL in early June (behind USA lasses, 2016 champion, Dalilah Mohammad, 52.88 and non-qualifier for Rio, Shamier Little, 53.51), was granted a medical exemption, due injury, going into the Jamaica trials in June/July.
She was asked, as a condition, to prove her fitness before the event. This would, in technical terms, give her until August 14 the day before the women’s 400mh at which date the country’s entrants must be submitted.
Prior to that, at the time of the preliminary entry, to be eligible to compete at all among a maximum of three, her name would have had to be submitted along with three others, including a substitute, if any of the amount was forced to drop out.
How it now turns out, is that Russell, as confirmed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), through its communications director, Anna Legnani, “is not entered to compete in Rio and the only way she can now be added, is if the JAAA made a formal request to the JOA, who must in turn, make that request to the IOC.”
Trackalerts.com sources on the ground, say that Russell’s MVP camp were taken off guard by the news and that they added that the athlete was in good condition to meet any fitness requirements and compete in Rio. There was a deadline of today (August 8) at 11.00am for a decision-making series of tests, conducted both by medical and technical personnel, assigned to the team. Russell’s handlers were opposed to this, as it was not a part of the earlier expressed conditions.
Meanwhile, the head of Jamaica’s track and field delegation at the Olympics, Ludlow Watts, is reported to be unable to explain the athlete’s omission from the entry lists. To add to the mystery, it has further been said, that he told journalists on the scene, that he had no information as to why Russell – a medal contender for Jamaica – did not appear on the original list of possible entrants.
As it now stands, Jamaica will be represented in the event by national champion, Ristananna Tracey, foreign-based, Leah Nugent and many time global finalist and Diamond League winner, Kaleise Spencer. They finished 1-2-3 at the trials.