Jamaican discus thrower Smikle faces doping probe
Jul. 19, 2013
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Olympic discus thrower Traves Smikle has become the latest Jamaican athlete to confirm he is being investigated in a doping scandal.
Smikle said in a statement late Thursday that his urine sample at the Jamaica trials last month revealed an adverse analytical finding. He said he did not knowingly or willfully take any banned substance and he has requested an analysis of the B sample.
"I am very saddened and surprised by these findings, as I have never attempted to cheat and have always considered myself an ambassador for the sport and a strong supporter of drug testing," said Smikle, a political science major at the University of the West Indies.
The announcement came days after former 100-meter world record-holder Asafa Powell and Olympic relay gold medalist Sherone Simpson tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrone at the national championships. Powell has said he did not cheat, while the trainer for both athletes has denied giving them performance-enhancing drugs as others have alleged.
Discus thrower Allison Randall and another unnamed athlete also returned positives for banned substances at the same meet.
In addition, Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic in May.
The doping scandal has rattled Jamaica, an island of 2.7 million people that prides itself on producing track stars, and which has won 28 medals in the last three Olympics.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said this week that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission would seek to test high school athletes for banned substances, and that officials would step up a public education campaign, even targeting primary school students.
The commission recently said it has conducted 504 in-competition tests and 356 out-of-competition tests since it was launched in May 2009.
Simpson Miller also said those involved in a school athletic support program would be tested, including coaches, trainers and teachers.
The announcement drew swift criticism from the public, with people saying the measure is too extreme, and that students should be tested only academically.
However, some high school athletic officials have embraced the proposal.
Maurice Westney, vice principal of the island's main sporting school, G. C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he welcomed such testing.
"The proposal is very good," he said. "We have to speak to different stakeholders and see how feasible and practical and legal it is to do this."
Westney said the government should deal with the doping scandal swiftly, noting that all athletes are repeatedly warned to stay away from illegal substances.
"This has been preached in our sports system," he said. "The quicker (the scandal) goes away, the better."