There are elements in the British media hell bent on tearing down Jamaica’s fragile dominance in track and field. We have seen all season long their stories quoting former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Jeff Fahey about getting Jamaica banned from future Olympics and so on and so forth.

Just recently we saw them quote the new head of WADA Sir Craig Reedie questioning the amount of time it was taking to resolve the Asafa Powell case when the case pending against Tyson Gay is still pretty much a mystery. Somehow that has eluded the new WADA head; the fact that Gay’s case has been outstanding for just as long.

It’s almost as if they were waiting for Jamaica to slip up so they could come at us and come at us hard. The latest salvo came from the pen of Daily Mail writer Martha Kelner, who visited Jamaica to ‘investigate’ before she penned her toxic piece, “Bolt dominates the landscape but spate of failed drug tests threatens to turn Jamaica into island of broken dreams”. In it she says that Jamaica is protecting it’s athletes, defending even those who have failed tests. She even suggests that we as a people fear coming out against the athletes because here, it doesn’t cost much to have someone killed.

We really have no one to blame but ourselves for this happening because the reality is we dropped the ball. We always seem to find a way to shoot ourselves in the foot. One sometimes gets the feeling that we are averse to success. We don’t seem to understand how we build on it so we might as well destroy it. So this past summer the scandal surrounding the inefficacy of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) gave the world media, and especially media houses like the Mail, the window they needed to begin their rampage like a bull in a China shop.

Much of it has indirectly been aimed at Bolt. The six-time Olympic gold medalist, eight times world champion and world record holder, has walked far and wide of any drug controversy since he blew up in 2008 but repeatedly we see the international media trying to link him to drug peddlers and scandals that have nothing to do with him. A few years ago, blogsite Deadspin tried unsuccessfully to link Bolt with steroid-peddler Angel Hernandez. Hernandez has been linked to Raymond Stewart and Trevor Graham, two Jamaicans banned for life for the alleged involvement in drug scandals, most notably the BALCO scandal that ended the careers of many US athletes including Marion Jones. The piece written by Barry Petchesky claimed Bolt hired Hernandez as a strength coach, an allegation that turned out to be nothing but pure fiction.

It was also during the same period when the infamous Victor Conte questioned the legitimacy of Bolt’s times claiming that it was only season before that Bolt ran 10.03s over the 100m only to run 9.69s in the next. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I can only say he must have been ignorant of Bolt’s existence prior to  2008, because clearly he was not aware that a 17-year-old Bolt had run 19.93 over the 200m, which already made him a sub-10 sprinter. That and the fact that prior to 2007, Bolt was almost exclusively a 200m sprinter.

As Bolt has continued to dominate, his success has somehow got stuck in the craw of some who believe that there is no way a man from poverty-stricken Jamaica could possibly rise from the adversity to become the greatest sprinter who has ever lived. When Yohan Blake and company tested positive for methyl-hexanamine in 2009, the the headlines globally read “Bolt trainer partner Yohan Blake tests positive for banned stimulant”. That too passed without the link progressing any further. This latest series of stories now, is another desperate attempt to undermine Bolt’s success.

First, it was how Bolt dominated in London but he might not have been tested before he competed at the Olympics, and even though he doesn’t train with MVP track club, nor Veronica Campbell Brown, nor anyone who has been implicated in this latest round of failed tests, Ms Kelner’s opening lines read “A huge image of Usain Bolt sprawls across seven stories of one of the tallest buildings in New Kingston, the business district of Jamaica’s capital” immediately linking the greatest sprinter that ever lived to the arguments raised about testing in Jamaica. Bolt, according to the IAAF, was tested about 10 times in 2012. Only Shelly Ann Frazer Pryce and Asafa  Powell, I believe, faced more tests.

The former Claro building from where Bolt’s image hangs is not far away from the Jamaica Pegasus where Ms Kelner stayed during her trip here. I dropped her there following the opening day of the disciplinary hearing for Traves Smikle, the promising young discus thrower who failed a drug test for Hydrocholothiazide (HCTZ).  The powerful diuretic  has so far this year featured in the failed tests of a number of Jamaica’s top athletes including Veronica Campbell Brown, whose case is still up in the air, months after the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) recommended a public warning as her punishment for failing a test in May. It’s also featured in the case of Kenneth Edwards, the martial artist who represented Jamaica at the Olympics in London in 2012.

I gave Ms Kelner a ride back from the Jamaica Conference Centre and I made my feelings known about the certain elements in the British media that have been painting Jamaica’s athletes with a broad brush when it comes to cheating.

I pointed out to her that it is easy to call everyone a cheat when sometimes the intent to cheat is not even factored into the equation. I also pointed out to her that JADCO may have dropped the ball as it relates to testing Jamaica’s athletes but why are they overlooking the fact that those same athletes were tested by the IAAF as well as other agencies when the athletes are abroad – in and out of competition. I explained to her that from May each year many of Jamaica’s top athletes are either in Italy or London and they are tested there, so why is all this focus on JADCO when they are not the only ones testing?

I said to her that most of Jamaica’s athletes failed tests for stimulants – Powell, Simpson, Blake and company four years ago. Fraser – Pryce was for a painkiller to ease her discomfort from a dental procedure the IAAF were very aware of. I suggested to her that if she was an athlete and had two cups of coffee, she could very well test positive for caffeine. She replied that she agreed but said that someone has to take responsibility to which I said, ‘Yes, absolutely but how fair is it to continue to paint all of Jamaica’s athletes as cheats when the evidence is not there to do so?”

JADCO, I said, needs to better educate our athletes about how to steer clear of things that could get them into trouble. At the risk of sounding naive, I maintained that the majority of Jamaica’s athletes who have failed tests in the past three or four years, were either naive, careless or reckless. But I do not believe there was specific intent to cheat.

By then we had arrived at the Pegasus and she gave me her card and I didn’t see her again until I read her ‘special investigation’.

My words never meant a thing to her and why should they? She came with one thing in mind and one way or another she was going to get the story she wanted, even if she had to spin it to make it believable.

I suspect the onslaught will continue until JADCO shapes up and starts to test Jamaica’s home-based athletes more aggressively. Maybe then the scrutiny will die down but I suspect it will not go away.

The clock is about to tick over into 2014, which means that Bolt has three years to walk the straight and narrow and another eight after that during which his previous samples will be tested to see if he was using anything illegal during his period of dominance. During those 11 years, it would behoove us here in Jamaica to work to ensure that Blake, Weir, Fraser-Pryce, and the rest of our stars remain clean. This means JADCO has to employ a more aggressive education programme, a more aggressive approach to ensure that all our athletes become virtual experts in what not to take so that they remain clean. Because the minute we slip again, people like Ms Kelner, the Daily Mail, Deadspin and others will once again leap from the shadows like hyenas. Because like the scavengers they are they are all too eager to rip to shreds the accomplishments of our athletes and with them, the reputation of this small Third World nation that dares to punch above its weight.

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  1. Jakan says:

    Simply put, JADCO needs a policy that REQUIRES: everyone who represents Jamaica, to immediately HAVE every thing taken in their bodies TESTED and APPROVED by JADCO. Anything short of that is a joke.

    Athletes cannot be on their own checking and researching supplements and anything else on their own. That just cannot be and neither should the country – Jamaica leave that to the athletes’ managers or any other agent

    It is that simple and we Jamaicans should demand no less

  2. linda says:

    Everyone around Bolt is dirty, that’s why he’s suspect.

  3. I’m glad you tracked this the way you did Leighton especially with regards to the invisibility of the under-stated Tyson Gay multi positive steroid tests. The reason for the extended silence regarding Gay appears to be his reported cooperation with the USADA.

    “…Three people familiar with the case told the AP that Gay had multiple positives this year. One of those people said one positive came at nationals and the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) has notified him of that result. One person familiar with the case told the AP that multiple positives over a short period of time are a sign of an athlete who wasn’t trying to hide anything, but simply didn’t know he was taking a banned drug. The people did not want their names used because the doping case against Gay is ongoing and the details have not been made public. Gay’s representatives did not immediately respond to attempts by the AP to reach them…” (, Saturday 27 July 2013)

    The adverse findings associated with Jamaican athletes all seem to fit the description of stimulants.
    The International Press has tasked Jamaican athletes for stimulant findings amongst them whilst conveniently ignoring Gay’s positive steroid test.
    To be fair, Gay appears to be a victim of ‘handler trust’ as did Sherone and Asafa. As for cooperating with the investigations, I have no reason to believe the Jamaicans collectively mirror the reported cooperation by Gay.
    The people reporting these investigations have yet to grasp the long and short histories of the development and evolution of sprinting in Jamaica.
    To the learned eye more than 90% of the reporting international press contain grand inaccuracies especially those regarding Bolt.
    It will be amusing to see the number of misquotations regarding your Bolt clarifications.

    I commended the recent remarks by the incoming WADA head Reedie. I do agree it is time the recommended punishment for Asafa and Sherone be made by the JADCO board.

    Same for that of Veronica Campbell-Brown from the two international bodies weighing her fate.
    The Jamaican body recommended public warning as punishment which has been in the court of the IAAF / WADA quite a few months since October when the Jamaican Board handed down its judgement.

    What did Reedie say regarding that matter?
    Maybe he’s not even aware of it.

  4. levyl says:

    And how do you qualify everyone Linda?

  5. michael campbell says:

    Excellent Editorial !! I too share the belief/conviction that there is an international media campaign(aided and abetted by local elements)to “pour cold water” over our brilliant athletic achievements. A campaign to put in our place,curtail our bravado, dampen our spirits and cast a cloud of suspicion and illegitimacy over our entire Track and Field Program. How can the former head of WADA Dick Pound have the gall the temerity to compare Jamaica’s situation to what occurred in the “Old Soviet Union and East Germany”- Wow !! that’s essentially – spreading a “Big Lie.” He should know better. The Media Vultures are circling above.Come on JADCO, come on Jaaa,lets not give them the opportunity to swoop down and eat our flesh !! Let’s be vigilant.
    This too shall pass!!

  6. kevin says:

    mr levy i am so happy you wrote this article these people need to leave jamaica alone, track and field is our national sports we start from kindergarten up, our grass roots program is very strong and we will be dominating for years to come so they better get use to it.they need to attend champs and see the intensity and the competitiveness of our children kimone shaw comes to mind as an example she will be a world beater if nurtured properly and there are many more boys and girls to come.

  7. Lisa says:

    People Need To Do Some Research On WADA And The Things They Don’t Want You To Know. You’ll Be Surprised That They Too Have Errors. JADCO Shouldn’t Be The Only Board Members Resigning. WADA Is Definitely On A Witch Hunt & Is Winning That Battle. However Jamaica Has Made It Easy For Them By Throwing Some Of Their Athletes To The Wolves. Parts Of The Media Fell For The Bait. You Can’t Be Upset With International Media Because The Majority Of The Stories Came From Your Country. Let’s Not Forget Anne Shirley & Paul Wright. It’s Hilarious To Me Because I Wonder If There Had Been No Positives This Year, Would She Had Spoke Out About The “Doping Problem” In Jamaica? Probably Not. Also, Veronica’s Public Warning by JAAA Is Not Abnormal Behavior. If People Researched Some Of The Past Cases They Would See. Check USADA’s Website To See Past Rulings. Also It’s Pretty Odd That WADA Would Zoom In On Jamaica For 8 Positives, When Other Counties Had More This Year. One Shouldn’t Compare Substances TO Lessen The Severity Of Each Case. However The Circumstances Surrounding Each Case Should Be The Focus. The Rest Will Speak For Itself.

  8. A .Mclean says:

    They will do anything to tarnish Bolt, might even place substances found in Yams and chicken nuggets on the banned list just to get him, this is like a great big conspiracy,do these [ people even like T&F ANY AT ALL or only when the Athletes are from a cirtain Country,,,, its good that Micheal Phelps can enjoy his success without this type of badgering. pity the fools

  9. Powell says:

    From the first year when Bolt went to New York and show what he can do, then went to the olympics and perform so well i said to my friends from the Island if he repeat that performance, there will be a war on jamaica to get their athletes out of the olympics and all internatioanl meets because developed countries does not like to become second best at what they think they should have and keep for themself and especially not from an Island.

  10. Powell says:

    Jamaican. stay focus, work with your own, train with your own,eat and drink with your own.not everyone that wears a smiling face and runs up to you saying they want to help you really wants to help you. you know the saying not everything that glitters is gold.theyre getting payed both ways. you may be paying them $20,000 to help you but someone else is paying them $100,000 to dope you up and destroyed you,dont be fooled by nationality stick to the food you grew up on and what your grandmother train you on how to treat pain and sickness its all in the back yard, dont trust any forigner sometimes not even your own because they like money too.

  11. All you readers of the above mentioned notification regarding the outstanding show of our Jamaican athletes. Now remember the article where the British Government had demanded that ‘Bolt et al’ and whom ever pro-form in the UK must pay 40% of their acquired assets earned and later all other earnings relating to the sport, they will also owe 40% to the British Government! Now I say to everyone, I firmly believe that ‘Colonization’ had been finished since – 1962, why in God’s name after stealing do much from the former colonies do they still believe they can still get away with this behavior! From the moment they stood up and said ‘No’ that era is over suddenly he is a ‘Bolt’ drug user or suspect enhance abuser! Isn’t that funny, after standing up for your rights you are deemed a suspect and prove yourself not guilty until you pay us! Stand up and tell the British Government you will no longer ‘Steal’ from us it’s ‘Over’ go some where else and do your stealing!

  12. Clare Forrester says:

    Good article; however while JADCO bears some responsibility for “dropping the ball” it must be noted that nearly every positive test result was obtained locally – by JADCO. that ought to count for something. Also the role of the former JADCO executive and Dr (“tip of the iceberg”) Wright was a major factor. Both these individuals threw Jamaica and all of our athletes under the bus by their unfounded allegations. Sure JADCO was under-funded, but I bet that (although ignored by WADA) it is at least on par if not superior to most other anti-doping agencies in this hemisphere or for that matter in the developing world. But yes, Jamaica appears to be a target presumably for the reasons stated in your blog.

  13. Frankie says:

    It is clear that two major newspapers in the UK (Telegraph, Mail) have decided to wage a hold jihad against Jamaica and its athletes. But my suspicion is that Brits residing in Jamaica might be playing a part in this whole exercise.

  14. Trevor Hall says:

    There is more going on than Track and Field. Some members of the British press want to tell us that we are still their former colony. Other members of the British press want to inform us that they do not like the way Jamaicans thing about their so-called marriage equality. There are those is the British press who will tell us–you are still Black people. We know how they treated us from 1655 to 1962, so their actions make sense!

  15. Paris Taylor says:

    I am very comfortable with the comments that Clare Forrester has made about the bad feedback that Dr. Usain Bolt has been getting from the international media and community.

    As for Linda I wondered if she is aware of the allegations she has centered on Racers. Sometimes we have to think straight and don’t allow our feeling overpower our minds. Glen Mills is a good coach and it is obvious from what we have seen him do with the development of our boss Bolt. We should be thankful of the type of impact the coach has had on the wider Jamaican populace. Glen mills is a phenomenal coach a trailblazer in our accentuation to a powerhouse. In the 1980s Glen Mills coached my brother Craig who went away to the USA and won the 55 meter title in the University league. He even held the record for approximately 15 years. I can attest to the caliber coach this man is and the courage and competencies which are his hallmarks. A lot of persons came under his tutorship and have made tremendous strides in highlighting our little Rock. No one can dispute the skills which this man possess in honing the talents of athletes from our little island. Bolt era just dates back a few years ago. He also has a grand legacy which existed in the past and now it is evident that it was not fluke that he garnered such resounding successes.

  16. Becky Cotton says:

    Black people always want to blame someone else for everything. Like, why are you people so dramatic and then get upset because “your image” is being destroyed by the foreign press? Why are these cases being treated like the biggest news ever to hit the airwaves? I noticed that you people are happy when everything is going great, but the moment something happens, you people turn your backs so quickly. Nothing but drama! LOL!! This is like “Real Housewives of Track & Field” or something. Everybody has an attitude problem. What is with your people? You ran over to the “foreign press’ with all of this mess, and expected your image not to be tainted? What a bunch of crap! You let WADA come into your country and bully you in the media. When they came, what did they find…nothing. Why would your officials wait three months to say, our athletes don’t have a doping problem? Did you notice that when WADA deemed you compliant, it wasn’t carried in the press, but the moment JADCO resigned, it was breaking news? Did you notice the scandal going on in Russia over the WADA-accredited lab: article —–> ( )? The former president of WADA was really mum about that, but blasted Jamaicans for dropping the ball! Well anything to take the spotlight off of their foolishness I guess. They knew about this crap in advance. They can’t even keep their own labs in order! Just a disgrace! LOL!! I mean c’mon!! Wake up! Nothing has happened in your country that hasn’t happened in other countries. However, I do believe that you have done irreparable damage. I truly believe that these cases are not what many people think. However, we make things as bad as we want them to be by not waiting on the facts. Speculation will get us nowhere. You made a mockery out of your athletes just for revenue. I guess it’s the slave mentality. Trying to impress the “white folk”. LOL!!!

  17. Mchelle Pink says:

    I am still feeling so ashamed of the approach took my Ms Shirley and Mr. Wright. If I feel so cheated as a citizen I can just imagine how the athletes truly feel. JADCO has to truly do an aggressive make-over, outlook of itself, and get very involved with the athletes with real aggressive education in what they should and should not take.

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17 comments so far
levyl Posted by: levyl December 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm