THE FINAL ruling of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter has now cleared the way for Trinidad and Tobago to be elevated as the gold medallist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics 4x100m final. While the circumstances could have been better, all who played a part in this historic victory should be commended and rewarded appropriately.
The journey to the top of the podium has certainly been a bittersweet one. Carter’s failed drug test only came about in 2016 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) retested 454 samples from the 2008 games that had been frozen, reportedly using new methods of analysis in order to detect anything that may have slipped the net. The IOC’s move came after a sophisticated drug-doping programme in Russia, involving the theft and replacement of samples, was unveiled.
There has naturally been scepticism in Jamaica over the belated discovery of methylhexaneamine in Carter’s sample after so much time and in circumstances in which it is not unreasonable to ask questions about the custody chain of same. Carter’s representatives have denied he knowingly took the substance and have, furthermore, argued that methylhexaneamine was not a banned substance in 2008.
But the official list of prohibited substances is not an exhaustive list and is merely illustrative. Even if methylhexaneamine did not appear there, it is clear under the rules that it was banned. The World Anti-Doping Agency states a banned substance is simply one that “has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance,” “represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete” and “violates the spirit of sport.” All of which was known about methylhexaneamine in 2008. Further, CAS has determined the matter narrow grounds, stating fault or negligence was not relevant.
No one in the Caribbean will welcome these developments which raise questions over the great legacy of Jamaica and its athletes, touching even Usain Bolt who now loses one of his many gold medals because he ran on the relay team. But as unpleasant as the circumstances are, the facts point to a situation that should never have happened. And in the end, this country appears to have been robbed in 2008 of a gold medal. With this elevation, we now raise our overall gold medal haul to three.
The Carter case is also undoubtedly a warning to athletes everywhere who may feel they will be able to escape detection by using drugs for which there are yet tests. Locally, we must also be mindful that even our athletics have, unfortunately, been touched by this problem. At least one of them, Semoy Hackett, is on record as having been subject to failed test results. Therefore, we need to implement our anti-doping laws and to establish our anti-doping commission or else could one day be in Jamaica’s shoes.