Dark side of T&T sport
Despite the euphoria created by Jehue Gordon’s golden performance at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, there are serious issues in the local athletics fraternity that should not be ignored no matter how many medals may come our way.
Before Mr Gordon’s superb showing in Thursday’s 400-metre hurdles final in Russia, Trinidad and Tobago’s name was associated more with controversy and embarrassment rather than excellence on the track when two members of the national team, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett, left the T&T camp even before the games got under way.
Amidst news last Saturday that Ms Baptiste had tested positive for a banned substance, team manager Dexter Voisin said: “She has voluntarily withdrawn from the competition and is heading back to her base,” although refusing to confirm that Ms Baptiste had returned a positive test.
On Monday, the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA), in confirming the athletes’ withdrawal, said in a news release that “the absence of both athletes is related to doping matters of varying degrees and complexity. In the case of Ms Baptiste, this association was notified on Thursday August 8 by the IAAF and the results management process is currently underway and, as a result, any further comment at this stage would be premature and inappropriate”.
But that lack of information has only increased all manner of speculation swirling around Ms Baptiste, who by now should have come forward and attempted to clear the air, stating the facts leading to her withdrawal, rather than allowing innuendo to run rampant.
She may have done Trinidad and Tobago proud in the past, but a serious charge has been made against her and there is no good in leaving it hanging in the air without a direct comment from the party involved.
And in the case of Ms Hackett, the NAAA has to take the blame for her ignominious retreat from Moscow as she is nothing less than a twice-tainted character who, if all the proper procedures had been followed, should not have even been selected to represent the country at the World Championships.
That view is supported by Minister of Sport Anil Roberts, who has been very vocal about the NAAA’s complicity in this affair, which has sullied T&T’s good name in the athletics arena.
The minister told the Express that the association went against the established zero tolerance approach to doping by lifting a provisional ban on Ms Hackett and selecting her for the championships.
In response, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) appealed the NAAA ruling, taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“The IAAF doping department has re-suspended Hackett pending the outcome of the CAS case,” team manager Voisin confirmed last Saturday.
“...Semoy Hackett has tested positive, not once but twice. She was penalised…she was serving a ban. Why did the NAAA lift or suspend that ban?” asked Minister Roberts.
The powers-that-be must ensure in the future that the dark side of the sport does not rear its ugly head again.