Ah, the joys of social media. I was on Twitter yesterday stating that Hitz 92 FM and the programme I host on Television Jamaica, “All Angles” would be airing an interview with Olympians Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson about the drug testing issue which other media houses did not have. Disclosure: Hitz 92 is a member of the RJR Communications Group, along with RJR 94 FM, to which I am employed, and the RJR Newscentre, out of which I work, provides content for all companies within the group.)
As most people probably know by now, we did not air that interview. Here is the statement issued by the RJR Newscentre yesterday evening. Disclosure up front: Milton Walker, Group Head of News and Sports at the RJR Group, who issued the statement, is my boss.
Television Jamaica Sports has been trying to get an interview with Asafa Powell since we broke the story
about his adverse analytical result at the recent National Trials. On Monday his publicist Tara Playfair-Scott agreed to grant us an interview including Sherone Simpson and stipulated what questions would be asked. Our reporter accepted the offer knowing that journalistically it was his duty to pose all the questions that needed to be answered in the public interest. At the same time he knew that it was the athletes and their agents’ right to refuse to answer any question.
During the interview when certain questions were raised about the supplements, the number of supplements they were taking before Christopher Xuereb was hired and how many they were taking after, as well as what they knew about the substance Oxilofrine, the athletes’ attorney Milton Samuda intervened and objected to those questions indicating that they had not previously agreed to answering those queries. The interview ended shortly after.
Mr. Samuda then demanded the video recording from the TVJ crew. The TVJ reporter handed over the tape to the athletes’ lawyer. The lawyers returned our tape today with the interview erased. They have also sent us an edited version of the interview this afternoon. The editorial management of Television Jamaica views this as unacceptable and stands by our reporter having the freedom to pursue all matters of public interest whether or not the public figures are willing and ready to answer certain questions.
For full disclosure TVJ must advise that Sherone’s and Asafa’s attorney Mr. Milton Samuda is also the Chairman of Television Jamaica and a Director of Radio Jamaica. Neither Mr. Samuda nor the Group’s management has been in touch with the newscentre and given any directives on how this matter should be treated.