English: Asafa Powell at the World Championshi...
English: Asafa Powell at the World Championship Athletics 2009 in Berlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It wasn’t a good day – it started with news that US star athlete Tyson Gay had failed a drug test and had withdrawn from the upcoming World Championships. Most track and field fans I know genuinely admire Tyson and the news was a blow. He comes across as a class act, and continued to do so, even in confirming the positive test of his A sample.

While we were still processing that, news came that FIVE of our Jamaican athletes had tested positive.  FIVE. Then came the body blow that fan favourite and international star Asafa Powell was one. That story is still developing as his publicist tweeted soon after that

 “the individual who gave Asafa the supplements room (sic)  has now been raided. He has been detained by Italian Law Enforcement in connection with this matter. The investigations continue.”

A report in the respected Telegraph states that Asafa’s room was also searched.

Most headlines have focused on the positive tests.

That is entirely expected, and while we may cringe to see the coverage in the foreign press, there is nothing sinister

English: Tyson Gay at the World Championship A...
English: Tyson Gay at the World Championship Athletics 2009 in Berlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or conspiratorial about it. Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay are two of the biggest names in sprinting. The coverage reflects this.

From ESPN  “Jamaica’s Asafa Powell tests positive.”

BBC Sport: Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell: Olympic Sprinters fail drug tests

The Independent: Grim Day as Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay both test positive

The Telegraph: Athletics in drugs crisis after sprint stars Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell test positive for banned substances

News.com,au: Sprint stars Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay are drug cheats, so is anyone running clean?

 

You get the picture. The point is, Asafa and Tyson are primarily the ones featured in the headlines. And rightly so – from a journalistic perspective, that is.

Jamaica is now a track and field brand. Asafa and Gay are strong brands of their own. Drug cheating is something that has brought track and field low before. It decimated cycling. To have two of the biggest stars on track right now test positive – and to have the news break on the same day – is a huge story. To have five Jamaicans at one time test positive is also a big story. No journalist worth his or her salt would ignore either.

Sure, the story will unfold, explanations will be forthcoming, and there will be developments. We don’t know yet what happened, either in Tyson’s case, or in the cases of our own athletes. That will come. We hope for the best.

But right now, the headlines will be painful to read. We had better get used to it. That’s the nature of news.  Local OR foreign.

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