For the first time, participants in this year’s annual Trinidad and Tobago International Marathon (TTIM) will be subjected to drug testing.
This is according to TTIM’s race director Francis Williams-Smith during the press conference at the marathon’s launch at the Normandie Hotel in St Ann’s on Tuesday
“Death takes you and sends you to a place you’ve never been before. The other thing that does that to you is drugs.”
He said that in all sporting disciplines the presence of performance-enhancing supplements is a big challenge, a big issue, and the TTIM had become undone by that when last year’s female winner, Mary Akor, tested positive for drugs.
The 37-year-old American, a seven-time winner of the T&T marathon, tested positive for Clenbuterol as a result of an in-competition urine sample collected on December 16, 2012 at the Maraton Gobernador in Mexicali, Mexico.
She was subsequently handed a two-year ban from all competitions, retroactive to May 6, 2013, by the Unites States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which she accepted.
Clenbuterol is deemed to provide assistance to runners by increasing their aerobic capacity, providing central nervous system stimulation and increasing fat metabolisation. It is a prohibited anabolic agent under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing and the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) Anti-Doping Rules, both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code and the WADA Prohibited List.
As a result of that scenario the TTIM has deemed it necessary to implement anti-doping measures.
Chairman Diane Henderson said they have been able to secure the services of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)-trained Andre Collins—who also happens to be a Trinidadian—to conduct the testing.
“We’re going to start off with six athletes, the top two men and women, along with two random competitors.
“Testing will be conducted on race day after competitors cross the finish line,” she said, adding that the samples taken will then be sent to Canada for analysis since the regional body, based in Barbados, does not engage in testing
“It may be surprising for them (the athletes) as it is a first, but we are hopeful that we do not get back any positive results,” Henderson said
She added that the objective is to increase the number of competitors tested each year.
Meanwhile, according to Williams-Smith, the TTIM is trying to recover all winnings and travel afforded Akor since her ban disqualifies her from all competitive results obtained between December 6, 2012, the date her sample was collected, and November 5, 2013, the day she accepted her sanction, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.