Olympian Drysdale-Daley cries foul about selection process but JJA says athlete's exclusion from qualification due to disregard for deadlines

By June 14, 2024
British-born Ebony Drysdale-Daley (left) in action for Jamaica. British-born Ebony Drysdale-Daley (left) in action for Jamaica.

Jamaica’s British-born judoka Ebony Drysdale-Daley has accused the Jamaican Judo Association (JJA) of bias where selection for this summer’s Paris Olympic Games is concerned, as she believes her path to qualification is deliberately being blocked by the powers that be.

With only one judo spot available to Jamaica for the upcoming Games, Drysdale-Daley, who became the country’s first athlete to compete in judo at an Olympic Games, when she graced the 2021 Tokyo edition, argued that she is now being overlooked by the association since her male counterpart Ashley McKenzie came in the picture.

McKenzie, who was also born in England, and won a silver medal at last year’s Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, currently occupies the coveted spot, as he is nine points ahead of Drysdale-Daley.

It is on that basis why Drysdale-Daley, the 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, alleges that her self-funded effort to attend a qualifying event in an attempt to possibly overhaul McKenzie is being hindered by the association's hierarchy.

“I feel the federation has shown no impartiality. I feel there is a real question of ethics, a real question of integrity. The Jamaican Judo association is blocking me from attending and competing in my last qualifying event, an event that I have self-funded and paid for. They (the JJA) told me that they weren't going to help finance, even though when I was in qualifying position, a fund was in reserve to help athletes in that position. But I never questioned that, I did my best to crowdfund and work for it,” Drysdale-Daley shared in a widely-circulated video lasting almost four minutes.

“They have removed me from competition registry. The Jamaican Judo Association had initially registered me for this event, now they have removed me. I feel there are clear and present inconsistencies and I have evidence and emails to support this. I feel the Jamaican Judo Association have favoured the other athlete in contention over me. They have effectively secured and ensured the other athletes qualification ahead of mine by blocking me from this final tournament of which I have paid flights for,” she added.

That tournament which Drysdale-Daley refers to is the Lima Pan American Open starting on June 21. This represents the final competition before the qualification deadline.

The allegations by the 29-year-old raises questions about fairness and transparency within the Judo Association and beyond, as she also leveled claims that she is being ignored and pushed aside by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).

“The Jamaican Olympic Association, and the Jamaican Judo Association have not responded to my emails and have cruelly ignored me. The deadline for me to be re-entered is in two days’ time. This is very time sensitive. I feel let down by my peers. I feel so alone,” Drysdale-Daley noted as she fought back tears.

JJA President Dwayne Barnett.

However, the Dwayne Barnett-led JJA in a release, emphatically denied the allegations, and stressed its steadfast commitment to fairness, integrity, and providing equal opportunities for all athletes.

“The JJA categorically refutes any claims of impropriety or personal interests influencing the selection process. The General Secretary and other mentioned individuals have no personal or vested interests that would compromise the integrity of these processes. The JJA upholds the highest standards of impartiality and professionalism,” the JJA statement read.

On that note, the JJA explained that its decision to omit Drysdale-Dale from qualification was made on the basis of the athlete’s disregard for deadlines, including for Anti-doping testing, which she failed to turn up for on two occasions.

“It is important to clarify that Olympic qualification in judo requires athletes to meet specific criteria. As in most sports, if not in all, qualification is based on merit and current performance of athletes so as to ensure the best representation. The JJA subscribes to this principle,” it declared.

“The decision to exclude Ebony from the upcoming qualifying event was solely based on her consistent failure to comply with deadlines and her repeated attempts to circumvent the processes established by the JJA for efficient management of competition entries. The importance of adhering to these deadlines has been communicated to all athletes on numerous occasions,” JJA added.

Regarding support and funding, the JJA revealed that Drysdale-Daley has received financial support exceeding US$50,000 from the JOA and other strategic partners since the day she began to represent Jamaica in judo.

“The JJA empathizes with Ebony Drysdale-Daley's disappointment and frustration. However, it is imperative to recognize that deadlines are an essential component of our processes. The JJA stands by its decisions, which are made in accordance with established rules and regulations,” the release stated.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • Overcomer: Andrenette Knight takes Olympic Games appearance in stride after personal loss, physical setback Overcomer: Andrenette Knight takes Olympic Games appearance in stride after personal loss, physical setback

    For Jamaica's Andrenette Knight, the path to the Paris Olympic Games has been a journey marked by both triumph and heartbreak.

    Knight had always envisioned her first Olympic Games appearance contesting an individual event, particularly the 400m hurdles, a race in which she has consistently excelled. However, despite her determination and hard work throughout the season, the JAAA National Senior Championships did not go as planned.

    This, as she placed fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles final in 54.37s, well short of her 53.26s personal best, and her attempt in the 400m also ended in a disappointing sixth-place finish in 51.65s. Still, the 400m run was merely targeted at securing a spot on the country’s 4x400m relay team, which she accomplished.

    “My ultimate goal was to represent my country at the Olympics in my individual event,” Knight admitted.

    “But, despite falling short of that target, I am still on a path where I can still call myself an Olympian, and that in itself is a big accomplishment for me, and I’m still very proud of myself,” she told Sportsmax.TV from the team’s base in France.

    Knight finds solace in her selection for the 4x400m Mixed Relays team, an event that combines male and female athletes, as her performance at the National Championships was hampered by two significant challenges –the loss of her grandfather and an injury that took away from her preparation.

    “Honestly, this season has been tough for me. I found myself having more lows than highs. I lost my grandfather a couple weeks before the trials, and I took it very hard. And then, in the days leading up to the trials, my foot was swollen, and I was in a lot of discomfort. I later found out it was a minor stress reaction,” she shared.

    “But regardless of everything, I think I went into the trials with an objective to make the team and I did that so I guess that was the high. I can’t complain too much about the setbacks; life happens and everything doesn’t always go according to plan but I would say this season has taught me to be resilient,” Knight added.

    Though she can manage to put on a brave face now, Knight pointed out that pushing through the pain and adversity was by no means easy, as she harboured thoughts of giving up on herself.

    In fact, the 27-year-old revealed that it is the strength of her grandfather’s memory and support of other family and friends that have kept her going. But more than that, the United States-based athlete, who boast two NACAC Championships silver medals and made the World Championships final last year, believes she still has so much more to achieve in the sport.

    “My journey getting here wasn’t easy. Being a track and field athlete at the professional level is not easy, and I think just navigating it all by myself away from my family and my support system makes it 10 times harder. I felt like quitting on myself in the moment before but I never thought about giving up because I believe that I have not scratched the surface on what I am truly capable of yet,” Knight declared.

    Andrenette Knight (right) in action against compatriot Rushell Clayton and Dutchwoman Femke Bol. 

    “I enjoy what I do; I love to see myself making improvements, and I know that I have so much more in store, so I never really thought about it as difficult or easy. I just know this is what I have to do to get to where I want to.  More importantly, I have a host of people who support me and also believe in me, so whenever things get difficult, I can always rely on them, just knowing that this too shall pass,” the Vere Technical and University of Virginia alumna noted.

    It is the resilience that has brought her to this moment that Knight is hoping to draw on to possibly assist Jamaica into medal contention in the Mixed Relays when track and field takes centre stage at the July 26 to August 11 multi-sport showpiece.

    “The Olympic Games only come around every four years, so I’m definitely living in the moment and continuing to work on my overall well-being. When competition day comes, I can only do what I’m prepared to do and control what I can control. My goal at the end of the day is to get to my fullest potential and accomplish all that God has in store for me,” the Puma athlete ended.

    NB: The Olympic Games will be live on Sportsmax and the Sportsmax App.

  • 'No thought' of leaving Durant out of Olympics, says Kerr 'No thought' of leaving Durant out of Olympics, says Kerr

    Team USA basketball coach Steve Kerr says there is "no thought" of replacing Kevin Durant in the Olympic squad despite him suffering with a calf strain.

    The USA played their final warm-up game ahead of the Games, with LeBron James starring as they beat Germany 92-88 in London on Monday to make it five wins on the bounce.

    However, Durant has not played in any of those five pre-Olympic games due to a right calf injury he sustained while training last month.

    Despite stepping up his training in the last week, he is still a doubt for their opener against Serbia on Sunday.

    Kerr has until Saturday to finalise his roster for the Games, and insisted he would not be calling up a replacement for Durant, who he hopes will get to train with the rest of the team when they travel to Paris.

    "There's no thought of replacing Kevin," Kerr said. "I was hoping he would get a game in here, but it just didn't work out that way.

    "When he missed time, he came right back - and he is who he is.

    "He's one of the most skilled players of all time. So, we hope he comes back soon, and I think he'll fit right in."

    The USA are aiming to win a fifth consecutive gold medal at this year's Olympics, and will also face South Sudan and Puerto Rico in Group C.

  • Murray confirms retirement after Olympics Murray confirms retirement after Olympics

    Andy Murray has confirmed he will retire after the Olympic Games in Paris.

    The 37-year-old is set to compete in both the men's singles and doubles at what will be his fifth Olympics.

    Murray first competed in Beijing in 2008 and won his first gold medal four years later in London with a straight-sets victory over Roger Federer.

    He then became the first male player to win two singles titles at the Games by beating Juan Martin del Potro in Rio in 2016.

    In a post on X, Murray wrote: "Arrived in Paris for my last ever tennis tournament.

    "Competing for Team GB has been by far the most memorable weeks of my career and I'm extremely proud to get to do it one final time!"

    Murray made his final appearance at Wimbledon, where he is a two-time champion, before the Olympics, suffering a first-round defeat with brother Jamie in the doubles.

    He later received an emotional tribute on Centre Court to mark his achievements at the tournament. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.