Look out! The Chinese are Coming

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published February 27, 2017

Football’s fever, growth and development in China is unprecedented. China’s plan is to win the World Cup soon and the influx of huge sums of cash, world-class players and esteemed coaches into the CSL will accelerate this plan. 

“The fever [in China] for football is something I have not seen before.” – Choi Yong-soo, the South Korean coach of Jiangsu.
(Photo credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

China, better yet, the People’s Republic of China is the second largest country by land mass in the world and the most populous country standing at 1.38 billion residents. Often described as an emerging superpower, with its increased economic, military and international influence, China is on the cusp of becoming the leading figure of world trade and power in the 21st century. Notwithstanding, this influence and trade power has trickled over into the sports world, specifically into the world’s leading game, the game of football.

In recent months and years, China’s highest tier of professional football, the Chinese Super League (CSL), has materialised as a strong competitor to European leagues in signing professional footballers to enormous salaries and contracts. Despite the notion that a player’s ultimate goal is to win trophies and titles, nevertheless, players also want to be paid and paid handsomely. They recognise that with their relatively shortened careers they have to maximise on their ability to earn immensely at the top-flight level. Continue reading

Stronger cricket clubs, parish structures needed for youngsters to transition

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published February 20, 2017

Philip Service, West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Territorial Development Officer for Jamaica

Philip Service, West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Territorial Development Officer for Jamaica

In an interview with ZFLS, Philip Service, the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Territorial Development Officer for Jamaica, stated that weaknesses at the parish and club levels, along with a paucity of resources and funding, have been the determining factors in the poor transition of Jamaican youngsters to first-class and international cricket. Continue reading

Nesta Carter’s only shot at a successful appeal

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published on February 13, 2017

PJ Patterson believes that Nesta Carter has strong grounds to see his disqualification by IOC from the 2008 Olympics overturned. Carter sole shot at a successful appeal may rest in arguments that rebut WADA’s laboratory standards regarding his samples.

The Nesta-Carter-failed-drug-test and disqualification from the 2008 Beijing Olympics remain the most significant story being discussed on the local news and sports scene. Last week, I weighed in on whether the IOC was correct to ban Nesta Carter. As a scientist, after reading the IOC’s decision, I was in full agreement with their conclusion. Scientifically, it was black and white. Three of Carter’s samples, his A, B1 and B2 samples, were all confirmed to contain the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine upon re-analysis last year.

For unlearned friends and legal novices like myself, it was an open and shut case. However, legally, “not so” was the admonition from various distinguished luminaries in the field of law. For them, Carter’s case had strong grounds for appeal and was marred with what I will describe as ‘various shades of legal grey’.

PJ Patterson
(Possible photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner, Source: JaBlogz.com)

The honourable former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, who is considered an eminence in the practice of law, made the rounds on various radio stations last week declaring his disappointment with the IOC’s decision. Patterson called the decision unfair and attributed it as one that raised more questions than definitive answers. Questions were directed to the chain of custody of the sample since 2008. Whether strict adherence to the WADA’s testing processes was observed? Why the Beijing lab got a negative result in 2008 while the Lausanne lab got a positive result eight years later? Why documents requested by Carter’s attorneys were deemed irrelevant and not furnished by the IOC? Why testing at one lab can lead to a positive result, while testing at another lab can lead to a negative result, despite all labs being licensed and accredited by WADA?

In my opinion and that of the average Joe, these are reasonable questions that need to be answered for not only Carter’s but also the sake of all athletes. If they cannot be answered, then we are compelled to ask if this anti-doping framework is fair to all athletes concerned.

WADA is coming under increased pressure to investigate and expose doping.
(Source: AP)

Interestingly, within the IOC’s decision in relation to Carter, they answered some of these questions. With regard to the question of the chain of custody of the samples, the IOC remarked that they provided Carter’s legal team with documentation on 15 July 2016 with regard to the “handling of the sample in Beijing and its transfer to the Lausanne Laboratory.”

In relation to why a positive sample, which could be detected in one laboratory, might be found negative in another laboratory, the IOC admitted to “differences in the availability of testing methods and/or level of sensitivity in their application in different laboratories.” For the layman, this is a cause for serious concern. As a scientist, I know why this can happen and find it very understandable. It is the nature of science. No two machines, methods or equipment are the same. Just like how no two humans are the same, even if they are identical twins.

A case involving Josephine Onyia of Spain, who returned four positive tests since 2008, was referenced in the IOC’s decision on Nesta Carter.
(Photo credit: Unknown) (Source: http://www.trackarena.com)

Nevertheless, it was while reading a case, which was brought before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2009 and which was referenced in the IOC’s decision regarding Carter, that I realised that Carter’s Appeal case to CAS is an uphill task and leaves him and his legal team with few options for success.

CAS in it is ruling from 2009 stated some important info that which will answer the questions of several Jamaicans and journalists still hung up on or confused with WADA’s policies.

Popular supplements reported by Spanish and Dutch authorities to contain methylhexaneamine including Jack3d, Lipo6 Black Hemo-Rage, Spriodex, Napalm, Tested Burner, Mass Pump3D, Presurge Unleashed, Beta-Cret Extreme, Noxpum, Black Bombs Thermogenic Detonator, Dexaprine, Maximise, Endoburn, HydroxyStim, Neurocore, Mesomorph and OxyElite.
(Photo source: Shane Sterling/http://www.nutraingredients.com)

The Court stated, “A substance does not need to be expressly listed in the WADA Prohibited List to be considered a prohibited substance in sport. Substances specifically listed are prohibited, but so are all related substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s).

“The List is an open list. It would be impractical to cite all stimulants because of the large numbers of compounds available on the market. Further, an open list allows the inclusion of those designer drugs created only for doping purposes.

“Methylhexaneamine not only has a very similar chemical structure to tuaminoheptane, one of the stimulants listed under Section 6 of the WADA Prohibited List, but it has also has similar biological effects to it.” 

Methylhexanamine is reported to have similar biological effects to the banned stimulant amphetamine and its analogues.
(Photo source: Wikipedia)

Of interest to me was another statement found in the 2009 decision in relation to the fact that the Lausanne lab was only first able to identify and confirm the presence of methylhexaneamine in an athlete’s sample, a month after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The court stated, “It is immaterial that the laboratory had not found this particular substance on any previous occasion.”

It makes you wonder if it is also immaterial that the Beijing lab could not find the same substance in Carter’s sample in 2008 but the Lausanne lab was able to find it in 2016.

Urine samples from Chinese athletes are recorded upon arriving at China Anti-Doping Agency in Beijing.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

To quote another part of the 2009 ruling, “By IAAF Rule 33.4 WADA-accredited Laboratories are presumed to have conducted sample analyses and custodial procedures in accordance with the International Standards for Laboratories. The athlete may rebut this presumption by establishing that a departure from the International Standard for Laboratories has occurred.”

In cases like this, strict liability lies on the shoulders of the athlete for all substances found in their bodies. According to the learned Mr Patterson, similarly, from the time their sample is taken to the time the sample is finally tested, a similar burden lies on the testing authorities to ensure that strict adherence to the stipulated process is followed.

Nesta Carter may have a single shot to overturn the IOC’s decision to ban his performances at the 2008 Olympics.
(Photo credit: Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

For me, that is the get-out-of-jail-card if Carter is going to win the appeal process. He must rebut and establish that there was a significant departure from the International Standard for Laboratories with regard to either the handling or analysis of his sample and/or in the discipline meted to him by the IOC. If he cannot, a successful appeal seems bleak.

We must remember that in the court of law, at times, the burden of proof perches not on whether you committed a crime. However, whether in the attempt to bring you to justice, the prosecution has followed all the processes to the T.

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter and a former research chemist. At this point, he’d tell you a chemistry joke, but all the good one’s argon … What is the most important chemistry rule he learned in the lab? Whatever you do, never lick the spoon!

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on February 13, 2017.

IOC’s decision to disqualify Nesta Carter was correct

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published February 6, 2017

Jamaicans have been polarised on the IOC’s decision to disqualify Nesta Carter and inadvertently Jamaica’s 4x 100m team eight years after the 2008 Olympics. Though disappointing, the decision may be correct.

Two weeks ago, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) announced that Jamaica’s Nesta Carter’s performances at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were disqualified due to his 2008 Olympics samples returning a positive test for the prohibited substance methylhexaneamine – upon re-analysis.

In addition to that, the IOC declared that Jamaica’s men’s 4 x100m relay team, which Carter was a part of, was disqualified from the relay event and that the members of the team must return their gold medals, medallist pins, and diplomas obtain, after the then-world record run.


Nesta Carter and Jamaica’s men 4 x 100m team from 2008 Olympics were disqualified for Carter’s positive test for methylhexaneamine by the IOC.
(Photo credit: AFP)

Several individuals locally have expressed outrage over the decision, with many lamenting the vanquishing of Usain Bolt’s “triple treble” crown as a result of the IOC’s decision. Quite a few individuals have missed the ‘alternative fact’ that Bolt is not the only one who will lose a gold medal, but also Michael Frater, Asafa Powell, and Dwight Thomas, all Carter’s teammates on that relay team.

Jamaica’s track and field conspiracy theorists have postulated that the IOC’s decision is a witch-hunt, which is attempting to snare the illustrious Bolt and to varnish his whitened career. I will not entertain such conspiracies until irrefutable proof has been tendered. Similarly, members of Jamaica’s convenient anti-doping public have been strident with their condemnation of the IOC’s decision. With many declaring that the decision to test samples up to eight years after an event has occurred is unfair and inconsistent with past decisions.

Nine years after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Jamaica's athletes Merlene Ottey, Tanya Lawrence, Beverly MCDonald saw their positions and medals in the 100m and 200m upgraded after Marion Jones performances were annulled.

Nine years after the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Jamaica’s athletes Merlene Ottey, Tanya Lawrence, Beverly McDonald saw their positions and medals in the 100m and 200m upgraded after Marion Jones performances were annulled.
(Photo source: The Jamaica Observer)

For crimes such as murder, in some jurisdictions, there are no statutes of limitations. In other jurisdictions, however, there are statutes of limitations for other crimes, such as rape, robbery, etc. As with life, laws change. In Olympic sports, presently, the statute of limitations for re-testing is eight years. The athletes themselves asked for such measures to level out the performances on the track and on the field against athletes who dope, and WADA and the IOC responded to their calls.

We, Jamaicans, have supported and celebrated the results of these decisions in the past when it caught our rivals and increased our medal tallies. Now we are against because it has caught one of our own and has reduced our gold medal tally. Such hypocrisy!

Antonio Pettigrew (left), admitted to using the banned substances erythropoietin (EPO) and human growth hormone (HGH) between 1997 and 2003. The US 4x400m gold medal team was stripped of their medals and Jamaica upgraded from bronze to silver eight years later.
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

As a chemist by profession and training, I for one, have no qualms with the IOC’s decision and think it is fair and consistent with past incidents involving methylhexaneamine and/or Jamaican athletes.

In 2009, prior to methylhexaneamine being explicitly mentioned in the stimulants section of the WADA list, five of Jamaica’s athletes returned samples with positive results for the presence of the methylhexaneamine stimulant. Yohan Blake and one of my former classmates were among the five, and four of the five received three-month bans. Like many Jamaicans today, at the time, I was befuddled as to why the athletes were convicted on JADCO’s appeal after initially being cleared because as stated in the initial ruling, the stimulant was not on WADA’s banned list.

Methylhexaneamine is found on package labels under a very wide variety of chemical and non-chemical names, e.g. 1,3-dimethylamylamine, 1,3-dimethylpentylamine, 2-amino-4-methylhexane, 2-hexanamine, 4-methyl-2-hexanamine, 4-methyl-2-hexylamine, 4-methylhexan-2-amine, dimethylamylamine, methylhexaneamine, dimethylpentylamine, floradrene, forthan, forthane, fouramin, geranamine, geranium extract, geranium flower extract, geranium oil, geranium stems and leaves, metexaminum, methexaminum, DMAA, etc.
(Photo credit: Harbin/Wikipedia)

I could not understand it! Methylhexaneamine was not on the list, but they were banned for it. I was unrepentantly outraged until I pounced upon WADA’s open-end clause or ‘smoking gun’ with regards stated prohibitive substances and their shirttail derivatives, which are often the compounds athletes take to get an edge while trying to avoid WADA’s testing tentacles.

WADA’s prohibited list states some important info at the beginning and the end of almost every section for the itemised banned substances, which include anabolic steroids, masking agents and stimulants. It says that the substances prohibited are “not limited to” those stated and that prohibition extends to “other substances with a similar chemical structure or similar biological effect(s).”

Methylhexanamine is reported to have similar biological effects to banned stimulants ephedrine, amphetamine and their analogues.
(Photo source: http://patrickarnoldblog.com)

Methylhexaneamine was not explicitly stated in WADA’s 2008-banned list and this is the cry of many Jamaicans and journalists without an extensive chemistry background. Nevertheless, methylhexaneamine is a chain isomer and a member of the same homologous series of the 2008 specified banned substance tuaminoheptane. In other words, methylhexaneamine has a similar chemical structure, similar chemical properties, and/or similar biological effects to the prohibited tuaminoheptane. In Jamaican patois, we say “Dey fava each oda, a members of de siem fambily, an du similar tings.” As such, based on WADA’s code, Carter’s disqualification is justified and is a non-issue.

Does this mean that in the future every athlete will need to do a degree in chemistry and/or have a chemist on staff to avoid transgressions like this? Maybe! Numerous athletes have been relying on the advice of their coaches and other members of their staff who are not medical, chemical or pharmaceutical experts in order to determine which supplements to take. WADA, though, has placed full responsibility on the athlete’s shoulders, for all substances found inside of their bodies. I would suggest to athletes worldwide, and especially those in Jamaica, to get hold of the experts, stop taking supplements, eat healthy foods include grandma’s yam and coco and let the results fall into place.

Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was banned in 2010 for six months after testing positive for the recreational drug oxycodone. Her coach Stephen Francis was reprimanded by the JAAA for his role in her positive test.
(Photo source: CNN)

The ‘alternative facts’ are there to see. Just ask Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Marvin Anderson, Allodin Fothergill, and Lansford Spence, who have all been banned in the past eight years.

Based on my beliefs and the facts, or the ‘alternative facts’ before me, does this mean that Carter should not appeal the decision? Of course, he should appeal it. Who to tell, maybe like Veronica Campbell, due to miraculous, legal and/or divine intervention, he could get the decision thrown out on appeal. Certainly, then, Carter and the entire Jamaica including his teammates would exuberantly sprint a sigh of relief.

Nevertheless, for now, I await to see how the appeal begins as Carter, Jamaica’s relay starter, gets his legal team ready.

Until next time…

© Zaheer Clarke

Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter and a former 100m and 200m sprinter.  He is guilty of taking WADA banned stimulants to stay awake in his chemistry and applied chemistry university classes. Sadly, the stimulants never enhanced his performances on his college exams. 

Zaheer’s articles have been published by ESPN Cricinfo, The Western Mirror, The Jamaica Observer, The Jamaica Gleaner, Trinidad Express, Essentially Sports and many others.

He can be reached at zaheer.clarke@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook at Zaheer Facts, Lies & Statistics, or on Twitter at @zaheerclarke.

This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on February 6, 2017.