Thursday, 31 July 2008

Letters To The Editor

NB: At the recommendation of Longbench, one of my faithful readers, I was advised to send this letter to the local media. It came out of a discussion we had further to the post about "drug taking and the 'Olympic Express..." (see below!). The letter was not published

Long Bench feels that, among others, I should perhaps consider calling the radio stations and shape this discussion, publicly. Though understandable, I do not feel thus pushed. However, I did write to the editor to discover the reasons behind the non-publication of the letter, especially as it was sent before news came that a Jamaican athlete had tested positive for drugs at the recent National Trials. There was no response.

That said, I thought it only useful to return to this topic, given the recent announcement that American-based, Jamaican sprinter Julien Dunkley may have been the athlete who reportedly failed a drugs test. Dunkley was dropped from the Jamaican Olympic Team.

Your insights, as always, are welcome.


Dear Editor,

Notwithstanding his obvious lack of credibility, recent comments made by the disgraced Victor Conte about Jamaican/ Caribbean sprinters and the calibre of our drug testing facilities are still important. This is especially when considered in the context of recent BBC/ New York Times reports, which look at how athletes beat the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) testing systems and whether it is possible to prevent them from doing so.

Though obviously important, it is very disturbing that, we do not seem to have sufficiently addressed the matter beyond vociferous denials that our sportsmen and women are drug cheats. Remember, Marion Jones' very voluble and incessant protestations which eventually turned out to be false?

The ideology of sports as other than competition on a field is somehow not being adequately addressed in this discussion. This is especially in terms of the agendas of those who criticise. Jamaican sports theorists, analysts and onlookers need to get with the programme and determine for themselves what is really going on; not only on the field of play, but also in terms of how sports can play an important part in building / generating national pride.

How far and to what extent might we learn something of significance from our athletic prowess? What are the implications of drug-taking, if ever discovered, for this process? Those, among others, are the serious questions which need to be asked, in my view. It is not sufficient for Conte and others to point fingers and complain, and for us to simply say that.

We have to tell our own story and know, in a very real way, the implications of a doping scandal for our much loved sporting programme vis-à-vis the larger society. Indeed, to the extent that we seem so bent on only seeing fast times is, itself, very telling in this regard.

So, I am agreed with the righteous indignation, however, only up to a point. Let's just hope that sports' key stakeholders get this before it is too late!

I am, etc.,

PS: Pictures courtesy of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) website: They show:

Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica beating Shelly-Ann Fraser, also of Jamaica and Kim Gaevert of Belgium in the Women's 100m, at the recent London Grand Prix; and,

Asafa Powell of Jamaica winning the Men's 100m in Monaco.

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