SAFP: no Jamaica doping problem


MONACO -- Jamaica does not have a doping problem, sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce said. Eight Jamaican track and field athletes have tested positive this year, including former 100-meter world-record holder Asafa Powell and two-time Olympic 200-meter champion Veronica Campbell-Brown. The World Anti-Doping Agency, meanwhile, is now reviewing the apparent breakdown by the Jamaican national anti-doping agency in the testing of the Caribbean island nation's sprinters in the six months leading up to the London Games.

"I don't think we have a doping issue," Fraser-Pryce said in an interview with a small group of international reporters. Instead, she said, at issue in Jamaica are cases of individual athletes "neglecting to correctly check the supplements" they are ingesting, adding, "The truth is, it's a minefield."

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She decried a lack of support from both the Jamaican track and field federation and the government, declaring, "Nobody is there to give us guidance and support," and saying the time had perhaps come for the island nation's to unionize: "We as the athletes need a voice."

If need be, unions strike to achieve their goals. Runners run. Would Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, champion of the 100-meters at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, winner of three gold medals at the Moscow 2013 world championships, refuse to run, to support a union, to prove a point?

"If it comes down to actually not competing [because] things are not up to par … yeah, I would," she said. "If it means lobbying for the athletes, yeah, I would. And not having our name tarnished, yeah, I would."

Fraser-Pryce's comments came on the eve of the IAAF's annual gala here in Monaco, normally a festive event free of such politics. She is the odds-on favorite to be named the female athlete of the year at ceremonies Saturday night. The two other finalists: New Zealand shot put star Valerie Adams and Czech 400-meter world champion hurdler Zuzana Hejnova.

Fraser-Pryce, typically, is cheerful and understated. Indeed, though she had much to say Friday, she was her usual soft-spoken self -- her comments delivered so quietly that one had to strain to hear her, even with a microphone.

The recently elected president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, speaking amid the WADA conference in Johannesburg, this week issued a dramatic warning to nations such as Jamaica and Kenya, saying athletes might be denied a chance to compete in the Games if nations were not compliant with WADA rules.

"The [IOC] charter is very clear that this," meaning expulsion, "can be one of the results," he told the British newspaper, the Daily Mail. "It's not the only one and not the exclusive one. But non-compliance can result in the exclusion from competitions."

There would be a long road before the IOC would consider exclusion. Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce -- and Kenya's 800-meter champion David Rudisha -- are huge stars. Even so, the fact that the new president would even mention it as a possibility is noteworthy, with Rudisha since saying, "It is bad. The faster they tackle the matter the better for our country's image. Not all of us are cheats. Some may have been [mis]led into abusing drugs."

Asked Friday about the possibility of Jamaica being excluded from the 2016 Rio Olympics, Fraser-Pryce said Friday, "I am not the one who writes the rules. I can't answer the question. I hope it never gets to that."

Fraser-Pryce herself served a six-month suspension in 2010-11 after a positive test for oxycodone. She said it was for medicine she took for a toothache. Oxycodone, a banned narcotic, is not considered a performance-enhancer or a masking agent.

She has said since dominating the 100 and 200 and running a leg in the winning Jamaican 4x100 relay in Moscow that some have questioned whether she was doping. On Friday, she said, "There is nothing for me to hide," adding of the rash of positive tests affecting other Jamaican sprinters this year, "I don't think it has cast any shadows on my achievements because I know what I have worked hard for."

She also offered incredible insight into what drives her not just to win but to keep winning.

In Moscow, Fraser-Pryce won the 100 in 10.71, defeating second-place Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast by a ridiculous .22 seconds.

She won the 200 -- not her favorite event -- by .15 seconds. Again, Ahoure took silver.

She anchored the Jamaican relay to victory in a championship-record 41.29. The Americans took silver, more than a second behind, in 42.75.

When she crosses the line first, Fraser-Pryce said, she does not exult in victory. Instead, she is even at that instant already thinking -- what's next?

"I am not enjoying it," she said, adding a moment later, "“A lot of athletes become so overwhelmed with their success when it happens, they forget about the next year. I constantly try to remind myself that this is just one chapter in my journey. There are many more chapters to write and finish."

She also said at other moments, "I feel like if I become complacent, then everything I’ve achieved might fall." And, "I never allow myself to fully unwind or have a vacation." And, "It’s always about doing better and taking advantage of the present."

Others, she said, "become complacent and comfortable and believe they have arrived."

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce -- never.