Anil: NAAAs must resign
By WALTER ALIBEY Tuesday, August 13 2013
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MINISTER of Sports Anil Roberts is calling for the immediate resignation of the executive of the National Association of Athletic Administration (NAAAs) over the drug scandal involving sprinter Semoy Hackett, who was allowed to compete at the World Championship Games in Moscow, although she tested positive twice for the use of banned substances.
Hackett who attends Louisiana State University (LSU), had tested positive for Methylhexaneamine in March 2012, but was handed down a “retroactive ban” and was allowed to compete at the London Olympics in July.
However, she tested positive for the same drug at the November 2012 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, in Iowa, USA, and was handed a provisional suspension by a National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) disciplinary panel.
This suspension was later lifted by a NAAAs panel, that cleared the way for her to participate at the National Championships in June, this year. But the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) appealed the NAAA ruling and decided to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). While this case was pending, the NAAA still sent Hackett to the World Championships, but she withdrew from the competition this past weekend, even as reports emerged that fellow sprinter Kelly Ann-Baptiste tested positive for a banned substance and bowed out before any race.
Up to yesterday, it was unclear what substance was used by Baptiste, a bronze medallist at the World Championship in Daegu, South Korea, who has reportedly returned to her college base in the United States.
Quizzed for a comment on the results of tests done on Baptiste, Roberts said he did not want to say anything until he gets all the information surrounding it. “I need to know when the test was done and what type of drugs were used etc. I do not want to say anything on that because I do not have the facts.”
However he launched a scathing attack on the officials of the NAAAs who allowed Hackett to first compete at the Sagicor National Track and Field Championship which was the main qualifier for TT athletes to compete at games such as the World Championships and the Olympics.
According to Roberts, “If you had noticed I did not attend the National Championship at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in June although I am a ardent sports supporter. Well that was my way of conducting a silent protest that I did not support drug cheats at the competition when I heard that the NAAAs lifted a ban on Hackett to allow her to run.”
Roberts is calling on the NAAAs to submit a report on their decision to lift a ban and allow Hackett to run.
“What they have done is to embarrass the country by allowing Hackett to run. They have also opened us up for criticisms from the world. We know the eyes have been on us and Jamaica as small countries doing well in athletics. Now there will be questions on whether those who have won in the past like Hasely Crawford and others, were on some kind of performance enhancement drugs too,” a fuming Roberts said.
Roberts, who has been with his swimmer George Bovell III on a number of meets in Spain, explained further that Government has embarked on a multi-million dollar programme to enhance sports tourism. “This could prevent athletes from wanting to come to Trinidad and Tobago in the future” Roberts said.
Meanwhile in a release yesterday NAAAs president Ephraim Serrette confirmed the withdrawals of Baptiste and Hackett from the World Championships were related to doping violations. The NAAAs boss said, “The absence of both athletes is related to doping matters of varying degrees and complexity. In the case of Ms Baptiste this association was notified on Thursday 08 August by the IAAF and the results management process is currently underway and as a result, any further comment at this stage would be premature and inappropriate. The statement added, “In the case of Ms Hackett, the IAAF has appealed the recent decision of the NAAA’s Disciplinary Panel to exonerate Ms Hackett and has also re-suspended her pending the appeal which is to be heard before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.”
Serrette, who is among officials attending the Championships, said the NAAAs remains committed “to drug free sport and is confident that the legal process regarding both athletes will take its due course.”
The statement comes amid reporters that another TT sprinter Aaron Armstrong missed two drug tests at the Championships.
Meanwhile Ruth Marchan, Acting Deputy Director of Sports at the Ministry of Sports also called for the resignations of the NAAAs executive, while the ex-president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee Larry Romany said he is concerned that the country may face a penalty by the IAAF. See page 46A