Last night, driving home in torrential rain from Oxfordshire where I had been for a ‘catch-up’ meal with my daughter, I listened to a sports programme on Radio Five Live.
One of its items was a report upon an anti-drugs disciplinary hearing on 31 year old Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, the three-time Olympian and former world 100 metres world record holder, who by October 2012 had recorded more ‘legal’ sub-10 second 100 metre times (88) than anyone in history.
On 14th July last year it was reported that Mr Powell was tested positive for the banned drug oxilofrine at the Jamaican national championships the previous month. He was of five Jamaican athletes, some female, that had been ‘caught’ at said event.
His defence at the hearing had apparently been that the drug had been given to him by Chris Xuereb, a newish member of his back-up team, in a supplement that he had then looked up online in order to check that it was legal. Mr Xuereb has denied that he had ever given Powell a banned supplement and claimed that Powell had taken a supplement that he had not told him about.
Earlier, in his opening statement, Powell had admitted that he was unaware of the WADA doping control rules and had failed, as required, to list all the supplements that he had been taking.
The hearing is ongoing. If Powell is found guilty, the likely sentence is apparently a ban of two years.
Towards the back end of last year it was alleged that Jamaica’s track and field drugs testing programme had been woefully inadequate for some time.
I’m afraid that, contrary to the normal presumption of ‘innocent until proved guilty’, I will take a great deal of convincing that banned substance abuse isn’t rife in Jamaican athletics.