Jamaican sprinter banned for life
KINGSTON – Jamaican athlete Steve Mullings has been handed a lifetime ban from all sports by the three-member Jamaica Anti-Doping disciplinary panel, after he tested positive for the prohibited substance Furosemide during the National Track and Field Senior Trials in June.
The panel, consisting of chairman Lennox Gayle, former FIFA referee Peter Prendergast and Dr Japheth Ford, unanimously decided on Monday that the beleaguered 28-year-old be given a career-ending sanction.
“It is our unanimous decision that he be ineligible from sports for life,” Gayle said after a ten-minute break in the session at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
Last Thursday the panel found the United States-based Mullings guilty of the violation, but the sentencing was put off to give the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCo) enough time to obtain relevant documents from the local governing athletics body.
The documents were said to contain information applicable to Mullings’ two-year anti-doping ban in 2004 and were deemed to be crucial in determining the magnitude of yesterday’s sanction.
Gayle explained that the panel was “satisfied that Mr Mullings is a multiple offender” and added that “a clear message must be sent to everyone. Prohibited substances must not be used”.
JADCo’s attorney Lackston Robinson told the panel that the information provided by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association was incomplete, because, while it stated that Mullings tested positive for methyl testosterone metabolite in 2004, it did not classify the accompanying sanction.
That shortcoming led Robinson to refer to International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) rules, which point to sanctions for second-time anti-doping violations.
He said that both of Mullings’ breaches were “standard violations” and charged that, based on “the chart (guideline) the possible sanction is eight years to life”.
He asked that the panel consider that Mullings did not attend any sitting of the case and did not present any witnesses in an attempt to prove his innocence.
He said that the athlete should be punished to the fullest of the law and added that “a message should be sent” to potential violators.
In response, Mullings’ lawyer Alando Terrelonge argued that with regards to sentencing, his client should benefit from any doubt surrounding whether he was found to have intentionally tried to enhance his performance.
Terrelonge described Mullings as a “talented athlete”, who should not be punished for being absent from the hearing.
He asked the panel to “not be swayed by prejudice or hostility” towards Mullings and added that a life ban would be “draconian”.
He contended that Mullings’ current situation was dissimilar to “extreme cases”, which he said warranted life bans under the provisions of the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency rules.
According to Terrelonge, a four-to-six or six-to-eight-year ban, would have been a more just punishment. (Jamaica Observer)