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ONLY HUMAN – Sorry to see you go so, Barry

Sanka Price

ONLY HUMAN – Sorry to see you go so, Barry

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TO WHOM MUCH is given, much is expected. And in the case of Barry Forde, Barbados’ most celebrated cyclist, several thousands of dollars were invested by the Barbados Olympic Association and the National Sports Council – more than for any other athlete in our history – to help him achieve his dream of success.
In return we had moments of the glory, as well as some disappointment. 
Last Friday Barry jumped before he was pushed into retirement, having been cited again for using a performance-enhancing drug. 
In a release from his management team, he announced his decision to call it quits after the sport’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), informed him that he tested positive for recombinant EPO, otherwise known as erythropoietin.
Recombinant EPO is used by athletes to increase their red blood cell count. This improves their endurance so they are able to train for longer periods without getting fatigued, and it is commonly used by endurance athletes. 
The revelation from Barry’s management team means that it was the third time since 2003 that Barry had tested positive for a banned substance, after demonstrating his prowess in 1998 with a gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games and a Commonwealth Games bronze medal.
In 2003, he was stripped of double gold at the Pan Am Games following a positive test for ephedrine, before being banned for two years after showing high levels of testosterone in 2005.
Given that he has already served a two-year ban for failing a drug test, the sanction against Barry now for such an offence would be a lifetime ban from the sport. 
Barry has denied ever committing any doping violation but has opted against appealing the result, reasoning he will never be able to prove his innocence.
His exit is not only a blow to Barbados’ medal hopes at upcoming international games, but a personal tragedy for him, his parents, family and fans who believed in him.
I was one of Barry’s fans. Though I never met him, I admired his work. His God-given talent was there for all to see. It just needed to be honed.
That meant he had to leave Barbados for specialized training and consistent high-level competition. He was abroad all alone most of the time. 
All of us who cared about this gifted young man would be sad to see him leave the sport like this. At the same time, as a professional athlete Barry knew the rules; he was responsible for whatever he ingested and no excuses can change this fact. 
This issue, though, is bigger than Barry. It is about talented young people with a short career lifespan having to leave our shores to improve their craft and being exposed to several dangers. Even Jamaica, the athletics powerhouse in the Caribbean, has this problem.  
It would be great if there was a Caribbean centre that brought together the region’s leading athletes and coaches to live and train together. Then, as a group, they would be able to travel and compete on the world stage for their individual territories. So we would still have the rivalry, but the athletes would be a Caribbean family.
Until then small countries with minimal resources, like Barbados, would have to expend huge resources on a select few to ensure they get the specialized training needed to compete on the world stage. 
That said, I wish this outstanding cyclist well in whatever he does in the future. Barry, you brought us great joy when you were at your best. I guess none of us could have asked for more.