In the lead up to the elections to choose a new administration for the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA), there were rumblings that trouble was brewing in the MVP camp over Michael Frater, the 2005 World Championship 100-metre silver medalist. Word on the ground was that if he was successful in his bid to become a vice president of the JAAA, Frater could find himself without a training base, especially if Dr. Warren Blake retained the presidency of the JAAA.

For whatever reason Frater did not respond to the rumours and he didn’t speak to his coach about it either. I assume he didn’t because it didn’t make sense that his coach would be harbouring such thoughts or perhaps because no one from MVP’s management had come to him about the matter. And why would he? Afterall, the two-time Olympic sprint relay gold medalist was nominated for the post by Paul Francis, the assistant coach at MVP and Stephen’s brother.

Late on the night of November 29, after three rounds of voting, Frater secured 204 of the 370 available votes to secure his position as third vice president of the JAAA, the most votes received by any single candidate in the elections. Hours later Stephen Francis was quoted in the Jamaica Observer saying the very same things that were heard on the rumour mill just days before. “That is the way I am leaning unless something else can be worked out. Unless there is a way to work out the issues that is the way it might work out,” Francis said when asked about Frater’s future at the club now that he was a vice president of the JAAA.  “If he can explain how my issues will be addressed satisfactorily and how he can convince me that he will not allow those on the JAAA executive to sabotage us (he can stay).”

I spoke to Frater after I read those quotes and again, he said nothing. Then just this week he offered what could very well be his first public statement on the matter. “I was very disappointed when I saw the comments made by the coach, but I made a decision and I’m sticking with my decision. This is what I chose to do… and for me it’s just (that) I’ve finally found a way where I can actually help the athletes… this is the path I’ve chosen and I’m going to stick with the decision I’ve made and if coach Francis has a problem with that, then so be it,” said Frater.

Frater joined MVP in May 2005. Having just graduated by Texas Christian University where he enjoyed a solid collegiate career, Frater said back then that he wanted to train here in Jamaica because he believes in Stephen Francis. “He is the first track coach that I have had. I have been coming a long way with him and he has kept on believing in me. That’s a major influence when you have somebody that believes in your ability,” he said back then, the same year he surprised the world by finishing second in the Men 100-metre sprint behind Justin Gatlin at the IAAF World Athletic Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

But even though Frater has been loyal to Francis, he has always been his own man. A man who is confident enough to do what he feels he needs to do. In 2008 when Francis refused to send his elite athletes to a training camp set up by the JAAA, creating major embarrassment for the Jamaican delegation in China, Frater defied his coach and attended the camp. At the time he believed the sprint relay team needed to get the necessary practice if they were to win gold in Beijing and the way to do that was to have all the participants in one camp. The Jamaican squad was comprised of Usain Bolt, who was by then the new world record holder, Powell, and Nesta Carter, but the sprinter, who grew up in Ulster Spring, Trelawny, believed that despite the talent Jamaica needed to get their baton changes down if it was to hold off the challenge of a strong team from the United States.

Again in 2009 at the World Championships in Berlin, Frater attended the JAAA camp, and again in London this year, when his teammates under the instruction of their head coach were in a separate camp in warmer climes in Italy.

Is it Frater’s penchant for doing his own thing why Francis feels that Frater can be swayed by the JAAA to ‘sabotage’ the very club that has brought him so much success? Is this why Francis no longer believes in him?

Frater is no fool. I also do not suspect that he is an ingrate. What I do feel is that he is a man who believes in what he wants to accomplish and aggressively pursues his goals. Frater said he joined Dr. Blake’s slate because he was the only candidate who had a solid plan to help the athletes – the emerging ones, the active ones and those who were retired. He is extremely passionate about wanting to help and believes that he has the know how to do so. That is why he won the largest number of votes of any single candidate on election night. His teammates and athletes from other clubs voted overwhelmingly for him. Had they believed that he had sinister motives towards his own club I doubt they would have voted so strongly in his favour, especially those athletes with whom he rubs shoulders every day.

With this in mind what does Francis know or thinks he knows about the JAAA’s plans to sabotage him. This is a man, who following his involvement in Shelly Ann Fraser’s unfortunate six-month suspension for testing positive for Oxycodone in 2010, faced a ban of between four years and life for his role in her positive test and I suspect that the JAAA had something to do with him still being able to coach. Had it not been for their ‘intervention’ perhaps he would not be coaching today. If the JAAA wanted to sabotage him wouldn’t that have been the perfect opportunity to do so? They didn’t need Frater for that.

There are questions left to be answered:

Why does Francis believe that the JAAA is out to sabotage him?

Why would Michael Frater betray him when he has stood by him for the past seven years?

Why wouldn’t Frater not help mend fences between MVP and the JAAA now that he is a vice president?

Only Francis can answer those questions.

The bottom line is that Frater is a leader, and it is hard for leaders to follow philosophies that they don’t buy into. I don’t think Frater buys into Francis’ theory that  the JAAA is out to get him. Think about it, if the JAAA sabotages Francis invariably they sabotage themselves because any leverage the JAAA now possesses is thanks in large part to the success of Francis’ athletes at major championships over the past decade.

Frater also has vision and he knows that he has perhaps four or so good years left at the elite level in track and field. He also has ambitions of entering representational politics. Being a JAAA executive member is a good platform from which to launch. There is life after track and Frater knows it and is preparing for it. However, undeservedly he has come under pressure for making a forward step, a step that he believes will be beneficial for himself and all athletes including his teammates at MVP.

If this situation escalates any further as Frater tries to represent his fellow athletes – who by the way, turned out in record numbers to vote for him – helping them get what he believes they deserve, I would hope that those very athletes step to the defense of their Olympic team captain, a man who leads on and off the track.

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  1. Jakan says:

    Steven Francis’ thinking really makes no sense. Maybe if he explains what acts of sabotage the JAAA has been doing, then we may understand from where he is coming

  2. calvin stamp says:

    Francis , is sabotaging himself and he has been doing a good job of that too. !

  3. rudy says:

    i am tired of the spoiled ranting and raving each year of Stephen Francis. Every year he has a problem with JAAA. One year it was that they didnot inform him formally about the need for the athletes to go to the camp another year it was something else. How does he think we can progress by taking this adverserial route.
    I would have thought with Frate in the JAAA he wouldfeel that at least he would have somepositive influence. Or is it that success has gone to his head and he feels he is too big

  4. Stefhany Rosalda Swire says:

    Michael Frater seems to be the ‘man with a plan’. He plans to take care of the future. Stephen Francis needs to stop being a deviant. There is always something going on with him. Jamaica, as a country has come a long, long way, and we have much further to go. Let’s not high-jack our impending legacy with ‘nothingness’. Sabotage….guzum

    What’s to betray? What is Stephen Francis afraid of? Francis has something to hide? Is Michael Frater never to leave Stephen’s wings?

    Michael Frater has come of age, looking towards his and Jamaica’s firm place in the perpetual annals of sports history. I agree with Michael Frater and the JAAA When at meets the Jamaican team should stay together, practice together, be comfortable with each other. Just don’t eat or drink anything from anybody.

    Being on Stephen Francis’s path will derail Jamaica’s and its athletes’ rightful place in Sports History.

    Stefhany Rosalda Swire

  5. DeeRich says:

    I have always admired Michael Frater, not only as an elite athlete but as a man with a strong character and above average leadership skills. I believe he will be very successful in his new role as a vice-president of the JAAA and will fulfill his promise of devising a plan that will help athletes.

    Francis on the other hand always seem to have a perception that people are out to “get him” or sabotage him. I am really not sure why that is so and there is probably more to be said about the relationship between the JAAA and MVP. Nevertheless making inadmissible public utterances about one of the members of the MVP who is considered one of their success stories is intolerable. The club itself should offer their full support and celebrate yet another milestone achieved by MVP.

    I however wish continued success to both MVP and Frater and hope that whatever fences were broken can be mended and their combined efforts will help to foster even more greatness.

  6. Barbara Book says:

    At age 29/30, Frater’s career in track and field is just about over….He is definitely preparing himself for life after track and field.

    What’s wrong with that, Stephen Francis?

  7. Regulator says:

    Francis is a great coach no doubt. He has made Jamaica very proud by molding local athletes into international maga-stars.
    Unfortunately he embraces the victim culture. This culture has unfortunsately led to unnecessary strained and antagonostic relationships with key figures in the athletics fraternity in Jamaica. He is now taking it to a new low to an athlete in his own camp. There comes a time when success should educate the mind that on the maturity continum there is a need to overcome the need to score private victories.

  8. M. Bingham says:

    Its sad that Stephen Francis one of Jamaica’s greatest coaches has consistently pursued an agenda of divisiveness and encouraged his charges to do likewise.

    I hope that Francis will be able to eventually forgive whatever perceived injustice
    he might have suffered in the past from the JAAA and stop embarrassing Jamaica.

    I wish Francis and Frater only the best for the future.

  9. Kirk Russell says:

    This is one of the stupidest things I have heard coming out of Mr. Francis. If the JAAA is out to get you, wouldn’t you want an ‘ally ‘ in there to protect your interest? This seems to be paranoia at its best.

    It certainly is strange too that Frater was nominated by an executive of MVP but head honcho doesn’t agree. he should have fired his executive too – oh, I forgot, it’s his brother. Oh well.

    Bottom line, Stephen get off the high horse.

  10. J. Don Man says:

    Besides, the incomparable Shelly-Ann, who else from the MVP camp has performed incredibly well at major championships? None, if i;m not mistaken. Is it possible that Francis is feeling a bit inadequate because he can’t seem to produse other Shelly’s and Asafa +. Coach Mills has been getting all the accolades of lately, which could be contributing to Francis’ childish behaviour

  11. Professor Trevor Hall says:

    Just because a man is a great track coach does not mean that he is a decent person. Coach Francis is a great coach; however, he thinks that he is more important than Jamaican Track and Field. He is waging a war against JAAA, and concludes that the whole world is against him. He has taken average athletes and made them world record holders and Olympic champions–that cannot be taken away from him. However, he is an arrogant genius!

  12. kenroy says:

    its time Francis put his childish behaviour away, since the 80s Francis have alway thinks he is bigger than the sports. just step aside and let the sports grow.

  13. Walker says:

    Be careful of the media and their reports folks. God bless both individuals and Jamaica.

  14. Willy G says:

    I believe Michael is a great person/ character. However, I blame him for all this. He is the one meeting out injustice. After all, he knows the position and history of the MVP/JAAA relationship and as a team member this is crucial.

    Frater should have made sure that he and Francis were on the same page prior to signing up with the JAAA. He should have worked out a media strategy with Francis too.

    After all Frater owes that to his illustrious coach who in my books is #1-having groomed an unprecedented male and female number over the years: Foster,Powell, Fraser-Pryce, Walker, Spencer, Williams, Carter, Frater, Mason
    Respect is due to Francis’ genius -he is badly understood.

  15. howardi says:

    Stephen Francis reminds me of a child;so immature and me, me, me–The victim culture persona that perpetually blames the authorities or any formal organization for his/her inadequacies.
    Francis is a great coach but, that does not absolves you fr being any adult!! What’s the problem with this whinner?? Does his calender have specific dates/topics to pick a fight with people or organizations in JA?
    Their are competent Psychiatrist in JA that Mr. Francis can and should seek in order to address his psychological inadequacies.
    He needs to grow up.
    JA cannot afford this guy to derail our progress..
    I am in full support of Michael Frater–A decent and proud Jamaica who has done the country proud–He has no time to sit around and whine like a child–like Mr Francis.

  16. lyndel frater says:

    How does one work out a media strategy when the coach does not take his calls or answer his texts Willy G? To say that Michael is meeting out injustice is bordering on Francism.

  17. Winston D. says:

    Francis has very good reasons to be wary of this organization. This was the organization that made every effort to undermine the efforts of our local coaches and went on a campaign to encourage them to train overseas. It is the vision of Mills and Francis and the understanding of why so many good athletes left our shores and came back ‘washed up” that has propelled Jamaican athletics to the next level. Francis has good reasons to distrust this organization!! In the same breath, i do not think any disagreement with Frater should be dealt with in public. Our love for “cass cass” is well known.

  18. Clive W. Savage says:

    “He is no man who cannot say no” I am happy to see a young man stand up for what he believes is the right thing to do. It is time that we move away from weak thinking that focus on the belief that others intend us harm when there is no evidence to support this thought process.I see no evidence of the JAAA wanting to inflict sabotage on coach Francis since they did not sobatage him when he contributed to the disgust that so many felt because of his apparent or direct role in almost ruining Shelly-Ann Fraser in that drug related incident.

  19. Jennifer Hewitt says:

    Michael is a wonderful athlete and a GENTLEMAN!!!! He has been treated like a poor relation for SSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOO long yet he never complains. He is never regarded or respected for the GREAT contributions he has made to our country and sports in general… through it all he has never thrown any tantrums.Leave him be!!! He is a thinker and a matured one too!! Hang tight Michael!!! It runs in the family!!!! Sensible..

  20. Freddy says:

    Francis, you should be encouraging this move so your club can get more support from JAAA. Think Big! Think Positive!.
    I hope you are not getting swell headed!!

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levyl Posted by: levyl December 12, 2012 at 10:19 am