Nesta Carter's pain is warning for all

Saturday, June 02, 2018

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This newspaper can't argue with the point that “rules are rules”, as was repeated by Mr Usain Bolt this week following revelation that Mr Nesta Carter's anti-doping appeal case had been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Nonetheless, we are yet again struggling with the uncomfortable feeling that, in these anti-doping matters, the long accepted universal principle that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty has gone through the window.

We can't help but suspect that in this case natural justice may well have lost its way.

To begin with, of course, Mr Carter was found to have committed an anti-doping violation close to nine years after the alleged offence at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Back in 2008, test samples had been adjudged clean.

We hear Mr Carter's anguished cry that, “The substance that was in my body is now recognised as having been a contaminant in many products and, as CAS accepts, it was not named on the Prohibited List in 2008 and only became known after the 2008 Olympic Games.

“Even though I must take responsibility for what has happened, it is difficult to accept that I could be in breach of the rules when, even if I had known I consumed the substance (which I did not), I could not have known at the time that the substance was prohibited.”

Like many others, we are struggling to make sense of what has happened here.

The bottom line, of course, is that 2008 Jamaica 4x100m team of Messrs Carter, Michael Frater, Asafa Powell, and Bolt, which won the event in then world record time, is disqualified, there being no more recourse so far as we are aware.

Regardless of right or wrong, the hard lessons must be learnt. The drug testing authorities have made it very clear over a long period of time that sports competitors must take responsibility for whatever enters the body, and nowadays, even if the offensive substance is only discovered many years later. And if we are to draw from Mr Carter's statement: Even if at the time the substance entered the body, it wasn't prohibited.

It seems to us that sports competitors and those closest to them, including their professional handlers, must be many times more vigilant in ensuring that they avoid nightmares such as has been the experience of Mr Carter.

One way may well be to eschew manufactured supplements altogether. So, for example, if a sportsman or woman is low on potassium, it may be best to eat ripe bananas and avocados from the backyard and avoid the pharmacy.

That's just the way it is.

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