Injustice on the Track
In the world of track and field, there are of course losers and one winner per race. With that being said, there are some athletes who want to win so badly that they are willing to take steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. This is why in International and National meets, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) tests the winner and a random selected athlete; to catch cheaters and keep the fairness of the sport alive. Now if caught, depending on the extremeness of the performance enhancing drug or substance, the punishment varies. But what happens if a banned substance was given to the athlete without the athlete realizing? Where is the justice then?
In this blog, I am sharing about a situation that happened to one of my favourite track and field athletes. Her name is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. She headed on a road of total success since she was the 100-meter champion at both 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 World Championships.
Then the unthinkable happened in Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s track career…
On May 23rd, 2009, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica’s first woman to win an Olympic Gold medal in the 100 meters, tested positive in her drug test in Shanghai. Before leaving for Shanghai to compete at the Diamond League in the women’s individual 100-meter race, Fraser-Pryce had three teeth filled in Jamaica, causing her toothache pain. In order to avoid withdrawing from her individual race, Fraser-Pryce sought help from the medical officials to cope with the pain. Unfortunately, the medication given to her by the medical officials did not ease the pain of her toothache. And so, Fraser-Pryce considered withdrawing from the Diamond League meet in Shanghai once again. Stephen Francis, her world-renowned coach, urged her to stay entered and run the race despite her tooth pain. Francis convinced Fraser-Pryce to take a painkiller that he was taking for his Kidney Stones. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was later drug tested and the test came back positive. She failed her dug test due to the painkillers her coach gave her. The painkillers were narcotics called Oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication that is used to treat pain on scale from moderate to severe pain. As a result, Fraser-Pryce was suspended in June 2009. The IAAF confirmed that she could not return to competition until January 7, 2010.
Are these rules too harsh?
Despite the devastating consequences of her six-month ban at age 23, Fraser-Pryce refused to blame Stephen Francis for giving her the banned substance. Although she felt that her reputation was tarnished, she took full responsibility for her actions. Fraser-Pryce took the painkiller that was given by her own coach, not realizing that it contained a banned substance. Was it really her fault? Should she have had to pay for her coaches’ indecency? In the world of track and field, it is heartbreaking to see athletes take the fall for the mistakes caused by others. I mean, it’s the athletes who put years of hard work in to see the results. Yes, in a way it is the responsibility of the athlete to be completely aware of what substances they are taking to avoid a positive test; but in my opinion, I believe that her coach, Stephen Francis, should have been held completely responsible. One, Francis is a certified coach who has coached several Olympians on the Jamaican team besides Fraser-Pryce and two, as a professional coach in track and field, he should know to check anything and everything that he gives to his athletes. Everyone wants the sport to be played fairly, but when the ‘unfairness’ is against you, who will speak up?
Check it out! Check it out!
If this information was juicy and you want to read more on this positive drug test then check out BBC Sports Athletics at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/9068350.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/8802921.stm
Watch some incredible races by the 2-time Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce!
100m Gold at 2012 London Olympics
100m Gold at 2013 World Championships
Mann, L. (2013). Fraser bids to bounce back. BBC Sport Athletics.
Census data revisited. (2013). Six-month ban for sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser. BBC Sport Athletics http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/9068350.stm
Census data revisited. (2013). Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser fails drug test. BBC Sport Athletics. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/athletics/8802921.stm
Multum, C. (2013). Oxycodone. Drugs.com. http://www.drugs.com/oxycodone.html. Oxycodone.