On Target
March 25, 2011
Clean up your act

Chairman of the Regional Anti- Doping Organisation, Dr. Adrian Lorde, has disclosed that within the next six months, our local sportsmen and women, mainly members of national teams, will be tested for drugs.{{more}}

This news must be a serious warning for our national associations, which over the years have swept the issue under the carpet, and seemingly have dismissed it with disdain.

But, finally, the chickens are coming home to roost, as the issue of seriously addressing the scourge of doping in sports gets closer.

And, despite the two-day workshop hosted last week Thursday and Friday by the National Anti -Doping Organisation(NADO), not many national associations saw it fit to be present at Frenches House to arm themselves with the knowledge.

The major players of these organizations failed to acknowledge that drug testing is today an integral part of regional and international competitions, and their representatives can be subject to random scrutiny.

It was this same column last December which called on national associations to get in line and ensure that their athletes are tested regularly for banned substances.

Then, it was a call to save the indignity now, and that is still being echoed, in light of the latest developments.

This is being reinforced against the fact that the local sports medicine association offers free drug testing to national sporting associations. However, few take advantage of the offer.

Now that the die has been cast, the task is for national associations to educate and inform their members of the prohibited substances that are listed by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

This is particularly pertinent, as many of the prohibited substances can be hidden through cough medicines, prescribed drugs, contraceptives and other substances.

Therefore, everyone who is aiming to go to the next level should arm himself/herself with such knowledge and not leave things to chances.

And, the prohibited list approved by WADA comes into effect early next month. On it there are 1156 prohibited substances, which can come in different forms, even disguised. So one sees the complexity of the issue of anti doping.

However, when one is caught using banned drugs in sports, and has to be debarred from competing, you are blamed, named and shamed. This is not only embarrassing to the athlete, but to his family, his friends, the national sporting body, and to the country as a whole.

Even not using, but dabbling in drugs in some form or fashion, can bring disgrace, as was the case recently with popular regional cricketers, Runako Morton and Tonito Willett, who were charged with marijuana possession in Trinidad and Tobago.

It was Willett’s second call, as in 2008 he tested positive during the lead up to the lucrative Stanford US $20 Million 20/20 match. The rest is history as his actions ruled him from becoming a millionaire overnight.

But we here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines not only find ourselves in a quandary by turning a blind eye, especially to the use of marijuana among our sportsmen. There is not much to hide as countless of our sportsmen, and many national players, too, indulge in the smoking of marijuana.

Such has been the case that authorities prefer to flush their players, using bush medicines as well as known tablets which are used for purging, just prior to regional competitions, instead of nipping the habit in the bud.

Marijuana, which for many of our sportsmen is recreational, has been scientifically proven to hinder performance in higher energy sports, and slightly relaxes judgment for some.

But whilst the onus is on national associations, those sporting units which are serious about the advancement of the whole man can at their level institute a drug free policy for their members. Certainly, it is not a far fetched thought or an impossibility, as it has happened before.

Administrators have a moral responsibility to guide those they lead in the right direction.

Ridding drugs from sports here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, like other places over the world, will be an uphill task, but for us, let us start with our national representatives that being drug free is the way to go. Therefore, that will definitely be a prerequisite for national selection.

And, this column still calls for the removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.