HACKETT, BAPTISTE LOSE $.5M
By Walter Alibey Wednesday, August 14 2013
SPRINTERS Kelly Ann Baptiste and Semoy Hackett will no longer receive funding of an estimated half a million dollars from the Ministry of Sports under its Elite Athlete Assistance Programme (EAAP) after the doping scandal that prevented them from representing Trinidad and Tobago at the current World Championship Games in Moscow, Russia.
This is because they violated the Anti Doping Code of the programme which states that athletes must be free of drugs to qualify for funding.
It is understood that both athletes receive the maximum sum of $250,000 each to help prepare them for major international meets.
Baptiste, who claimed a bronze medal at the World Championship Games in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011, tested positive for a banned substance only a day before she was expected to compete in the Women’s 100 metres in Moscow last weekend.
On the other hand, Hackett, had served a retroactive six-month suspension by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) for her use of Methylhexaneamine in March last year and again tested positive for the same drug in November while representing her school Louisiana State University (LSU) at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Outdoor Championship.
For this she was given another suspension by the IAAF while her school, LSU, was made to hand over the medals they won with her. Trinidad’s National Amateur Athletics Association (NAAAs) disciplinary panel lifted the ban and allowed Hackett to participate at the Sagicor National Championship in June this year. But on Saturday last, the IAAF appealed the decision of the panel and sent it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) just when Hackett was about to contest the preliminaries of the Moscow championships.
Yesterday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Ashwin Creed said the athletes, by virtue of being caught on drugs would automatically be disqualified from the elite funding. When quizzed if the funding will be stopped immediately, Creed said, “It will be taken away from them because there are conditions for athletes to receive the EAAP funding. Among those conditions, the athletes must uphold the anti doping code” Creed did not rule out the athletes being re-accepted for the EAAP funding however, but said they will have to “sort themselves out” first.
Both athletes left the TT camp at the Moscow games on Saturday and have refused to answer calls to their phones and messages on Facebook. Calls to Baptiste’s cell phone yesterday were answered by someone who said the sprinter was not available while attempts to reach Hackett on facebook also got no response.
Baptiste’s mother Hazel Taylor also refused to comment when reached on her cellphone yesterday morning.
There are concerns that Baptiste who was crowned the NAAA Female Athlete of the Year last year as well as the First Citizens Sportswoman of the Year for the same period would also be stripped of those titles. Attempts to reach Dr Keith Clifford, chairman of the First Citizens Sports Foundation Committee were unsuccessful and Ephraim Serrett, president of the NAAA, is at the World Championship in Moscow.
Baptiste and Hackett, who are both from Tobago, could also face exemption from funding by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) which recently embarked on a programme to help develop its athletes. Other athletes targeted in this programme are double Olympic bronze medallist in the 400 metres Lalonde Gordon and Renny Quow, another one lap sprinter.
On Monday, Sports Minister Anil Roberts said the NAAA executive should resign over the doping fiasco.
Meanwhile, another TT sprinter, Aaron Armstrong, who had reportedly missed two drug tests yesterday attempted to clear his name. The 100 and 200 metre sprinter said when he saw the report that he had missed the drug tests, he emailed the IAAF to inform them no official had approached him to be tested.
According to Armstrong, “The IAAF responded to me via email yesterday to state that it had been a mistake as my name was not even on the list of athletes to be tested. I just want to clear my name in light of all the doping taking place right now.”