More fuel for the fire…
FRANCIS BLASTS JAAA
Says association should clean up rather than prosecute MVP athletes
BY KAYON RAYNOR, Senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, August 20, 2009
BERLIN, Germany - Stephen Francis, head coach of the MVP Track Club, believes the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA) will be better served trying to eradicate doping from the sport in Jamaica than trying to prosecute his athletes.
Francis’ utterance comes in the aftermath of reports that the JAAA plans to have a disciplinary hearing to sanction members of the MVP Track Club who missed the mandatory pre-championship camp in Nuremberg between August 6 and 11.
“Look here, Mr Aris can do whatever he wants. If he decides that what he wants to do is victimise the athletes, fine!” Francis told the Observer last night after Brigitte Foster-Hylton won Jamaica’s first ever gold in the sprint hurdles in the history of the IAAF World Championships.
“The sport has changed a lot since the time that he has been boss of this sport in Jamaica and I don’t want to issue any challenges, but I think that what we need to really do is to find out how we can. I mean it doesn’t look good for you to be victimising these athletes while the ones who took the drugs are running around and their coaches and so on being supported by the JAAA,” Francis reasoned. “It is stink all over the world and the JAAA needs to understand that what they should be doing is trying to find out how to get the sport in Jamaica drug free. That is what they need to be doing,” an upset Francis said. The five athletes who are currently embroiled in a dope case are Sheri-Ann Brooks, Yohan Blake, Lansford Spence, Marvin Anderson and Allodin Fothergill.
He did not clear the air on the matter of whether his athletes were notified in writing or verbally by the JAAA that the camp in Nuremberg was mandatory.
Asked if the performances of his athletes justified them not attending the camp, the astute coach replied: “It’s not a matter of justification, it’s a matter of philosophies. Most of what I do is either new to or foreign to the traditionalists, a lot of whom are in the JAAA. They don’t understand the importance of coaching, they don’t understand the importance of judging scientific calculations of quantities of work and that kind of stuff, and that is a lot of the reason why we end up clashing so much.”
He continued: “I believe that if I don’t stick to my guns, my charges are not going to perform well and I believe I have evidence of that in Osaka and, to a lesser extent, last year in Beijing and so to me it’s usually the question of do you, for a peaceful life, bow to the JAAA’s dictates and the athletes don’t perform or do you try and challenge them and if they are allowed to participate know that you’ll get good performances, and it’s something that I hope we don’t have to go through over and over again,” Francis said.
“The only reason why these people (athletes) can train is because they have contracts with shoe companies and these meets are more than just winning gold medals and silver medals for Jamaica. These meets determine whether or not these people will have their contracts next year and when they make mistakes and don’t perform well their contracts are taken away and the JAAA or the Government is not going to replace that money,” Francis said, noting that athletes can’t survive in the sport otherwise.
On August 13, JAAA president Howard Aris confirmed that sanctions will be taken against the MVP athletes who had missed Jamaica’s mandatory camp in Nuremberg.
“The JAAA’s rules and regulations are very clear, persons who bring the association or the sport into disrepute can be brought before a panel,” Aris said during a press conference here.
The athletes who could face sanctions for missing the JAAA’s six-day camp are Asafa Powell, Shelly-Ann Fraser, Melaine Walker, Shericka Williams, Kaleise Spencer and Brigitte Foster-Hylton.
Aris indicated that the three-member panel, which was empanelled in January, is chaired by former Jamaica Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe.
The other members are former Attorney General of Jamaica Winston Spaulding, and former chief of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Major General John Simmonds. Aris did not indicate what possible actions the athletes could face.