Editorial

JADCO credibility at stake

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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The acquittal of athlete Miss Kaliese Spencer yesterday by the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel has left the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) with egg on its face for the second time in a month.

But the embarrassment aside, JADCO is now suffering a serious blow to its credibility and we are left to wonder about the ability of its members to do their jobs.

Readers will recall that Miss Spencer was accused of violating article 2.3 of the JADCO Anti-Doping rules, which refers to evading, refusing or failing to submit to sample collection.

The athlete has consistently maintained her innocence and yesterday the panel — comprising Chairman Mr Kent Gammon, Mr Heron Dale and Dr Donovan Calder — said that the evidence submitted by JADCO did not persuade them that Miss Spencer had committed a breach of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Commission rules.

Her attorney, Mr Paul Greene, was strident in his criticism of JADCO, describing the case brought against her as ridiculous and nonsensical. It's difficult to disagree with him, because based on what came out in the hearings we are puzzled as to why Miss Spencer was prosecuted at all.

Mr Greene reminded us yesterday that “one of the most staggering moments of the hearing” was Mr Wilmot Rowe — who Miss Spencer was supposed to have evaded in order to avoid providing a sample for testing — admitting that he didn't even know he was her chaperone at the time.

“How in the world can she be evading somebody who didn't even know he was supposed to be testing her? It's just absolutely nonsensical,” Mr Greene said.

All this time, Miss Spencer was under a provisional suspension, meaning that she was unable to compete on the international circuit and thus continue to earn a living. The question we have for JADCO therefore is why subject someone to such inconvenience if the evidence they have is not convincing enough to secure a conviction? Why the over-reach?

JADCO's behaviour in this instance reminds us of its equally puzzling decision earlier this year to appeal the one-year ban imposed on Jamaica and West Indies cricketer Mr Andre Russell for breaching anti-doping whereabouts rules.

Mr Russell did not file his whereabouts on three occasions during a 12-month span in 2015. The World Anti-Doping Agency regulations state that three filing failures during a one-year period amount to a failed test, which may attract a ban of up to 24 months.

However, the anti-doping disciplinary panel — comprising Chairman Mr Hugh Faulkner, Dr Marjorie Vassell, and former national cricketer Mr Dixeth Palmer — that heard Mr Russell's case stated that his conduct did not “raise a serious suspicion” that he was “trying to avoid” being tested.

As such they ruled that Mr Russell should serve a 12-month ban.

Recall that Mr Russell was not punished for ingesting any banned or prohibited substance. Therefore, we were surprised when JADCO indicated that it would appeal the decision and seek the maximum penalty.

Last month, JADCO, unable to defend its silly decision, dropped the appeal. But that should not be the end of the matter. An entity with the kind of power JADCO has cannot act irresponsibly and unprofessionally when dealing with people's reputation.

While we accept that JADCO has a job to do, it must display professionalism and fairness.

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