Local athletes alerted over drug dangers

The perennial problem of drugs in athletics is topical again following the recent spate of high-profile Jamaican athletes failing tests for banned substances.

Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell Brown and Sherone Simpson are among several Jamaicans joining the list of shame, igniting debate on whether there is a flawed anti-drug culture in the Caribbean.

While no Cayman athlete has tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs, the issue is nonetheless being addressed here.

Cayman’s own sprint star Cydonie Mothersill-Stephens is the Caribbean representative for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Mothersill-Stephens said, “As the WADA rep, I’ve got to know more about the drug culture in athletics. We don’t have a culture of doping here in Cayman, but athletes still need to be educated.

“Whatever you put in your body, you’re responsible for it. If you don’t know, then you should ask for a list and find out. Ignorance is no adequate excuse.”

Throughout her long career that has spanned five Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games gold medalist and World Championships bronze medal winner has been ultra-careful with everything she ingests.

“I’ve stuck with the stuff I’m familiar with,” she said. “I don’t buy online or use a supply that I don’t know where the source is coming from. You have to be cautious.”

Mothersill-Stephens advocates educating Cayman children from an early age all aspects of drugs in sport. “Coaches have a role. If we talk about it and feel comfortable, then we have a head start.”

She does not believe that because the Jamaican athletes and a couple of others in the region have recently tested positive, that drug cheats are endemic in the Caribbean.

“A few athletes tested positive but I think we should wait before saying the whole region is tainted,” said Mothersill-Stephens.