Drugs in Sports – THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG

 

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Life sometimes throw you a ball and you wonder where it came from. Following up on my piece yesterday on the anti doping in sports ( Drugs in Sports- don’t take my skin) , WADA, as is customary prior to any world sporting event, has issued a statement on the status of anti -doping in sports. A fellow blogger wrote what he calls his arm chair piece on the matter  from the article that WADA released . So as not to edit anything I cut and pasted as sent to me.

On the eve of the Moscow World Athletics Championships.

Arm-chair review-
The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), Wada, Wada, Wada… (Sounds like a song) did highly critical report into global sport drug testing and it turned out to be “a shocking wake-up call” said the WADA Boss David Howman. The study highlights failures in ALL aspects of the anti-doping system and recommends wide-scale reform.

They found that “only 1% of the athletes tested each year are found to be taking banned substances – the SAME percentage as in 1985 (obviously too many people getting paid to do nothing at WADA)

So last year Wada set up a special working group to investigate why more cheats are not being detected.” As per Dick Pound “There is a lack of commitment on the part of many, many national anti-doping organisations.”

Last year Turkey carried out 120 tests on its 450 athletes, while Jamaica did 68 tests, (How many athletes does represent Jamaica?) but Greece managed NONE at all. I noticed that some of the “big countries” were not mention in the BBC report.

***WADA why not try this:
1) Each and every athlete listed in all the Federations should have their Biological Passports updated with four (4) tests per calendar quarter in order to continue to be a part of that Federation.
2) Five days before a major event the participating athletes gets tested by WADA themselves.
3) The athletes get tested on ALL finals if you come first or last again by WADA. (Since they cannot be trusted or your testing methods cannot be trusted either).
4) Institute LIFE BANS and records wiped. PERIOD. Giving short term penalties, going thru the court system etc. is not admissible.

My Final Thoughts:

The road to a clean and drug free sports is laced with cruel intentions. If the players are cruel then the system is cruel. The Olympic movement has the opportunity to ride above politics and do something right for a change. However the Olympic charter, as independent as it seems, is still pegged to a lot of government and their lobby groups making it impotent to act freely , decisively and in the best interest of the athletes and sport it represents.

If you want to fight a war on drugs WADA sit down at your kitchen table and talk to your family- all of them- athletes, commissions, national bodies , everybody. It is bigger than what you think it is. WADA is fighting the enemy it knows- the athletes,but there is a bigger enemy stabbing at its back.

Until it changes it stand from being the antagonist to a protagonist working with the athletes and the national commissions, educating, motivating, offering solutions , as well as exposing the perpetrators and without fear publicly deal with the national commissions that only appear to be a commission on paper ,  then WADA’s role will simply be nothing but a high priced doping agency that will continue to be a case of the tail wagging the dog. 

What are your thoughts on the matter on the eve of World Championships?

Is Bolt a Legend?

The London 2012  games are officially over. Its been 17 days and the world has been drawn to athletics. 17 days when those who are highly favored got the  chance to actually see the games in person and for those who were not so fortunate sat glued to their television sets , myself included . For 17 days we did not move except to take a shower and do the obligatory thing of eating something before we sit and  die before the TV.

The Olympics brings one thing to the viewer- a spectacle of human strength. We sit in awe and watch fellow humans stretch the limits of human boundaries to accomplish feats the the average Joe Blow can only dream of doing. The furthest he will go is pressing the button on the remote. Thats his version of human accomplishment. We sit in awe and we cheer our hearts out when the athletes go higher, faster and stronger than their competitors. We are in love with the TV and with our human self.

Growing up we always heard our parents speak of great stories of human accomplishment. A a Jamaican I never knew who Jessie Owens was but my parents told me what he did in the face of adversity. The story they told me fascinated me at a young age and they spoke of this man having paved the way for black athletes to compete. I was also told of Herb McKinley and Arthur Wint the 2 Jamaican athletes who themselves went to London and did the impossible. From a small island they won the 100 yards and 440 yards at the time. Those were fascinating stories for a young man at the time. Growing up Donald Quarrie, another sporting personality set his mark by wining the 200m in the Olympics the only athlete from Jamaica them to do so. These men from an early age inspired me to take up track and developed a love for it to this day . the stories were inspiring, uplifting and proved that it was possible to accomplish the impossible. They were our local legends that every young man wanted to be like.

We grow up in many places, in our homes , our churches, our extended families and in our schools and in every sector of the society we come across some legendary feats that remain with you forever. In my college years the stories were too vast and too many legends were born out of my College years. My headmaster affectionately called Jango, his vice principal who we were all in awe with his flawless circle drawn by hand in our maths class. Mr Dibbs is a legend. Not to mention the beating our school managed to give other schools in teack and filed and football. Those days were legendary. They actually happened and we can tell our children  of those feats.

Jump to 2012 and there are questions and debates on  Usain Bolt. Is he a legend? That question is like asking if the sun shines in jamaica? People like to complicate simple things. We tend to forget everything that ever happened in the past . To document Usain Bolt’s life is like rewriting history. That is already documented and can be read by anyone who chooses to do so. But the question of him being a legend simple stops me in my track.

Bolt appeared on the scene from he was 17 years old and very few people took notice. Not until 2008 when the world saw this tall athlete smashed the world records in all sprint disciplines and took notice. 4 years later amidst lots of adversity he came back to the world’s largest stage and repeated the feat he set 4 years earlier. He ended with a world record.

Bolt was the first man to do 9.5 in 100m sprinting, a feat most people thought impossible. He went further and set a new 200m mark stunning everyone who witnessed it. He then anchored his team in the 4x100m relay to a world record. 80,000 people stood in awe to watch this man run. The entire world stopped and watch him race. He is the only man in jamaica that stopped production for 10 seconds. He single handedly took on the powerful USA and turned their track programme to dust. He was so fast that no one on the planet could beat him when he puts his mind to it. And he proved it twice. Yes son Bolt did these things in 2008 and 2012 and he had the world as his oyster and the world had him as their fantasy. Thankfully he is alive. Go on line and see his races.

That was me talking to my son telling him of the legendary tales of Usain Bolt.  He inspired me then and he inspired my son now. His stories actually happened. so the question being asked is quite simply dumb founded and one cannot help but think that he is a victim of his own fame. A man does not have to die to be a legend. There are many persons writing their legacy now and who are already legends. Barack Obama, Portia Simpson, Nelson Mandela, Tiger Woods to name a few. They are legends thankfully living inspiring others to take their lead.

People are talking now about Bolt both his enemies and his friends. The unfortunate thing is words of thanks from his fellow men  may not be a free giving as it should be. He has given himself to humanity and there are those who still question him. That is the sign of true greatness and human weakness. Bolt name is written in the pages of the history books as the first of all men to do the impossible. His name will go down in history as being the tallest fastest man in his time and from the look of things it could be a while before another legend comes of age. One thing is certain, BOLT IS A LEGEND. We hope we see many more of him to satisfy our lust for greatness. Greatness is starting something that lives after you. Bolt has started a revolution in track and field that will outlast him. Frankly  it does not seem it will be rewritten for a long , long time. Ask yourself this question, will you be talking about him now or anytime soon? If the answer is yes then he is already a legend, you just don’t want to admit it!

Athletes are mere humans…

 

Another great story of the Olympics. Felix Sanchez was the world leading 400m hurdles runner in 2003/4. At the Beijing olympics his grandmother died and he did hot perform to his standard. Since then he was left for dead , like a wayward homeless person on the sidelines. He kept a photo of his grand mother in his chest and promised her that he would win the 400m at the London olympics. Guess what -he did. That was why he was so emotional.

It is human nature to hold athletes above the norm, hold them to higher ideals, we cuss them when they fail. It is stories like these that remind us that athletes are human , like you and me. they go through the same emotions, the same bull shit , they do the same thing in the morning like you and me. So before we crucify, me included, we must remember they are only human, subject to failures, triumphs, tragedies, regrets, love, laughter, hate just like you and me.

 

Sports- the unifying element to Jamaica’s problem

 

There was a quiet over the entire city. All cars came to a halt. It was absolutely quiet for the start. On your marks, no one could breathe. Get set, hearts stopped. An entire nation was about to explode. Then the sound of the pistol…BANG. The ladies got an even start, Shelly was not the first one out.

VCB and Jeter were off to the races. Baptiste was out of the blocks too. Shelly continued to drive, 30m, they were all in a line, VCB, Jeter, and Shelly. Jeter started to pul away, VCB was hanging on, Shelly continued to streak and streak she did. At 10m Jeter was concentrating on VCB but it was Shelly that clipped it , 10.7, taking home GOLD and defended her 100m title. Jeter was second, VCB the eternal competitor was 3rd.

The process was not easy. Shelly had suffered tremendous challenges leading up to this point. VCB looked no where near her usual standards. Concerns were high but they promised us that they will do their best and deliver and thats exactly what they did.
The city was moving meter by meter with Shelly and VCB. Half Way Tree was at a stand still. After 10.7 seconds  the race had finished and the stadium was hush. Who had won no one knew. all 80,000 eyes were looking at the screen. Shelly , Jeter and VCB stood looking at the screen as well. Who had won? The lights flickered. It was Shelly . The stadium erupted, Shelly dropped to her knees and praised the Lord. Half Way Tree was a pandemonium. Car horns began, people were dancing in the streets and me, I was on the porch of my apartment shouting out the results to a world that had already known. But who cares. It was Jamaica’s moment, a moment in time that had not been done in over 20 years. a female sprinter repeating her victory at the Olympics.
Many school girls now see that is possible to live your passion for yourself and your country. Shelly and VCB has given every youngster in Jamaica the hope to believe in their dreams. Make no mistake about it . Track and filed is like tourism in Jamaica for a lot of people. Our athletes are the torch bearers of this industry and the nation is following. now its over to our leaders to lead. Give them opportunities, give them encouragement, give them hope, show them that this is another way to excel and make a living. Sports is the single most unifying element in this country and our leaders have been short sighted in seeing the benefits of this. We continue to remain behind the 8th ball.
Jamaica is celebrating 50 years. Although still a young nation we can do do much better than what we have done. We have made great mistakes, squandered our wealth of talent and resources, and take for granted the talent of our people. Unless our leaders begin to lead and have a stated vision for our people then events like these will only be a flash in the pan and all their hard work would have been wasted. And we would have celebrated another excellent milestone all in vain.

THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THE OLYMPICS SO FAR

 

The London 2012 Olympics although no Beijing in terms of scale, scope and budget is steeping up to setting a few first in the hosting of the games. To mount such a spectacle is no mean feat. That in itself deserves an Olympic medal. And as usual nothing could ever be possible without those persons that are simply called The Volunteers. In every Olympics the Volunteers are the stars of the event . The thousands of them that do it all for self and country is a true testament to the Olympic spirit. Well done London like every country before them that has hosted the games. Now lets turn to the nice things so far in the Olympics after some 5 days.

The FIRE CAULDRON. The Barcelona games is by far the BEST ever produced lighting of an Olympic  flame  period. No one can forget the dramatic crescendo of the single archer and his lighted bow and with one stretch of the arrow lit the torch. it was dramatic. But London went a step further.  If you noticed during the parade of teams  there was an added volunteer with a brass holder in the parade . I was wondering what was their role, maybe it was to place the flag pole in the vessel. No, not so. They were the actual cauldrons for each country that would eventually make up the Olympic cauldron. THAT was special ,unique and different and deserves A+for the organizers. My only comment is that the flame should be high above the stadium so that the entire Olympic park and city can see the effects of the flame. Where the London flame is placed it does not afford that.

The BEACH VOLLEYBALL venue is probably the best location for the sport ever staged in the Olympics and Brazil has to come hard to top that. That was a stroke of genius and a pity it cannot remain permanent. Located on the Prime Minister’s doorstep in central London, Horse Guards Parade provides an iconic location for the London 2012 Beach Volleyball competition Coupled with the music and presenter the venue comes alive and is the perfect spectator sporting venue. The entire venue was built from stalls to sand.

SHOOTING  the Olympic games is a big task. Its the biggest audience in the world and every country has a team of reporters there to relay the results back to their country. Additionally the BBC as the host nation has to provide feeds to numerous networks to bring the coverage live. The London games has succeeded with giving the best close up shots of the games that makes you feel like you are actually there at the games. The amazing under water and over head shots of the swimming and diving competition , the close ups of the canoeing are all unprecedented in Olympic coverage. HD and 3D are the standard here. London 2012 will be the first Olympics to feature live 3D television broadcasts, and 33 “true 3D” cameras will be used to capture more than 230 hours of 3D coverage. So far this aspect of the games has been excellent and  first class. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the viewers when the games move to the Olympic stadium.

 

 

The MEDAL Tally after 5 days has been exciting and is a true reflection that the world of sports is a global phenomenon that is for all countries not just the richest or biggest. From the  largest nation China to one of the more obscure ones Uzbekistan some 40 countries have medalled so far after only 5 days . It means the playing field is leveling. Its not just about money, its about heart. The 2008 Olympics had 86 countries that medaled. This 2012   games looks like it will top that.

Every Olympics has its fair share of drama and surprises. London so far has had a few. From the number of athletes sent home for doping to those gone for racial twittering these games are positioned to write its own chapter in the history books. One thing so far is true – no nation will have a gold medal wrapped in a bag waiting to be collected. You have to earn it. The world has suddenly gotten better.  China had to perform to win the diving sweep in medals. If they didn’t a country like Mexico would be right there to take it away from them. So the games has been fair and balanced . Now all attention moves to the Olympic stadium. The games in the  80,000 seat mammoth will be for the purist the real start of the Olympic games. Yes there will be drama, there will  be upsets and tears of laughter and the agony of defeat. From the opening ceremonies London 2012 has shown the world it will be a different Olympics. True to form it has been so far. What lies in the cauldron of the track and field? Let us all sit back and watch as the drama unfolds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONDON 2012 – DIFFERENT CEREMONY DIFFERENT GAMES

LONDON OLYMPIC STADIUM ON OPENING NIGHT

At the closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics we were given a glimpse of the host city’s preview of what we can expect when London played hosts. I can vividly remember a double-decker bus and some dancers with umbrellas and that’s about it . Was not inspiring and I took a deep breath and counted to 10. Sadly if this is what we are to expect then please take the games back to Beijing.

But to ask that of Beijing to host the world again would be asking too much, even for economic behemoth China. Beijing from all standards of Olympic hosting and presentation was in one word FLAWLESS. Of course there were problems, smog, food are only but 2 of them. But if there were the world did not notice as the opening ceremonies set a momentum that lasted the entire 2 weeks. And this is the importance  of the opening ceremony. It is to showcase the host country’s culture and customs not exclusively  but certainly importantly. Every country has done their presentation and viewers were happy to see the various traditions of Atlanta, Barcelona, Greece, Australia and Beijing and they set the tone of the games. London’s stage was set from the opening sound of the BIG BELL and from there it was dark and ominous, mournful, pastoral, dirty, sloppy movements, comical, cutesy and lacked a WOW. The question is will the games follow suit?

Many countries have high stakes in these games, some more valuable than others. USA, China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Jamaica to name a few  all have stakes in how their teams perform. But from the opening ceremonies my prediction is these London games will be not as exciting for a number of countries in terms of performance , GB included, as they want it to be. Beijing offered excitement, so too was Australia and even Greece. London offers dreariness. Conclusion, expect anything from London, anything.It will not be glitzy for  some countries.

London has always been a country that puts on a spectacular Royal imagery and the world was expecting a bit more glitz and glamour from a country known for its glitz and glamour. We were taken on a history lesson of GB and the lesson was taken with a pinch of salt. As viewers we accepted it as we should and we gave a polite applause. Some of the Brits were happy others were not. One thing is certain the London 2012 games will be different, different and game changing. Let us hope the rain does not flood the gates to gold for a number of athletes and countries.

london-olympics-opening-ceremony-video

LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

 

1460 days ago the 30th Olympiad was awarded to London , the city that represents European power. The city that once ruled the world, The sun never sets on the British Empire. Its ironic that one of her former colony is celebrating 50 years of independence from her. Jamaica going back to the place that had her captive for many years on the biggest stage bears a sense of revenge. If London 2012 is anywhere near Beijing then we can say we have finally given our response to years of oppression.

London represents many things to many people but hosting the Olympics is more symbolic especially for the Caribbean islands that have said good bye to her. It is important that when we celebrate we must also remember that we must celebrate not only Jamaica but for the Caribbean. Today, Jamaica like like the rest of the Caribbean will show London and the World who we are. We , like the rest of the Caribbean, will show London that their little daughter has grown up and can compete on any stage without their help or direction. Today Jamaica will look into their hearts and find the Olympic flame, that flame that represents the hopes of a nation, that represents a nation at 50 striving to show the World and London that it has not been easy but we are proud, strong, and we are determined to be who we can be and that is being Jamaican and by extension a powerful Caribbean nation.

And so let the games begin. For the next 2 weeks the world will focus on London, focus on competition, focus on unity, focus on the ideal that we are all but one people, under God, whoever it is we pray to. Let the games begin the outpouring of inspiration, motivation, hope, triumph and yes even failure. Failure is not doing your best. Rather it shows who you are and all that you stand for – and that is excellence. London has called the World to its city but this time not as an aggressor but as host to the biggest table of human emotions , the games of the XXX Olympiad.