The eyes of the sporting world are not only on Jamaica but the entire Caribbean following the positive dope tests of several of the region’s world-rated athletes.
Our image has taken a whopping beating in the international community given our rise to prominence in recent years as an athletic powerhouse on the world stage.
In one month, the positive doping tests on the likes of Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson – all Olympic gold medalists have resulted in the world focusing on us as cheats.
Questions will now be asked, and quite rightfully so of the region’s biggest athletic icon, Usain Bolt, his compatriot Yohan Blake and our own Kirani James.
One major Italian newspaper has already jumped on the bandwagon with a headline that suggested that Bolt is surrounded by dope. It is clear that a particular message is being conveyed to the international sporting world about our athletic prowess.
The recent dope cases involving our elite athletes in the Caribbean should be met with a response from our regional leaders at the level of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and not left only to Jamaica.
Our region has been put on the map due to our performances at international games like the Olympics and World games such as next month’s athletics meet in Moscow.
It is reported that the University of the West Indies (UWI) has the facilities to test each and every stimulant and vitamins that our athletics need to put into their system.
THE NEW TODAY is calling for systems to be put in place so that greater use can be made of these facilities in order to make our athletes drug-free.
The back and forth between Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson, their agent and trainer on who gave what and when to the athletes will not solve the problem.
The athletes are fully aware of the fact that they – and not the coach, trainer or whoever are the ones responsible for what goes into their systems.
There is an old saying, “If in doubt leave out”. And by extension, if the athletes utilise the facilities at the University of the West Indies, they would know whether or not it is safe or risky to take anything that can result in them failing drug tests.
As a region, we need to take stock of the problem and come up with solutions that can ease the pain that each of us will feel when our top athletes are being viewed with suspicion in very much the same way those from Eastern Europe felt during the days of the Cold War.
It is quite obvious that as medical technology improves, more and more athletes who attempt to beat the system will be caught and exposed.
Our athletes have made us proud not only in terms of their individual performances but also played a major role in promoting the region in terms of tourism. This cannot and should not be under-estimated.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to make a few passing comments on the island’s huge indebtedness to our many wide and varied creditors.
The Keith Mitchell-led government needs to clear the air on reports that the island has defaulted on a major loan payment to the British government on funds that were borrowed for the construction of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA).
This announcement was first made by Roman Catholic priest, Father Sean Doggette who is part of a religious group that has been advancing proposals for the island to engage in negotiations with all creditors to deal with an unbearable debt of EC$2.3 billion.
This information was confirmed to our news desk by the Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister who indicated that the government took a deliberate decision not to make any payments on that particular loan to the British government.
However, one day later, Prime Minister Mitchell did not seem to know as the Minister of Finance that Grenada might have defaulted on the long-outstanding debt payment to the British.
The Press Secretary and Fr .Dogette seem to be aware but not the Prime Minister. How come he did not know? Does he get regular briefing on these things from PS Finance, Timothy Antoine and the Accountant-General?
If indeed, there was a default by Grenada it could lead to a possible further downgrade of our creditworthiness by agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody. This country can ill afford to go below its current SD ratings from Standard & Poor’s. How much lower can we go?
Our severe debt problem has its genesis in the 1995-2008 period of Dr. Mitchell and his previous NNP government when it borrowed a few critical loans at high commercial interest rates for projects that either did not materialise or could not have been considered as being part of the productive sectors of the economy.
As Dr. Mitchell has reminded us, he is now much wiser as a leader and has come back to the fore as a much better leader and therefore one expects him to fix the debt problem.
THE NEW TODAY is anxious to see this debt situation successfully dealt with because it has the potential to either make or break this country.