Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare has been banned for 10 years by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Athletics Integrity Unit.

The 33-year-old sprinter was banned for five years for the presence and use of multiple prohibited substances and five years for her refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case, the AIU said in a release on Friday.

According to the AIU, the sole arbitrator adjudicating the case concluded that the athlete’s use of multiple prohibited substances as part of an organized doping regimen in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games was egregious conduct that amounted to aggravating circumstances under the Rules thereby warranting an additional period of ineligibility on top of the standard four-year sanction.

The sole arbitrator also recognized the AIU’s right to carry out investigations, including the imaging of electronic devices, and to impose sanctions when an athlete refuses to co-operate with an investigation and thereby frustrates the AIU’s ability to fulfil its mandate to protect the integrity of the sport of athletics.

In this instance, the sole arbitrator concluded that the athlete’s refusal to cooperate had denied the AIU the opportunity to discover evidence of possible further rule violations by her as well possible violations of the rules by others, for which he imposed an additional sanction of five years, the release said.

“We welcome the decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal; a ban of 10-year is a strong message against intentional and coordinated attempts to cheat at the very highest level of our sport. This is an outcome that was driven by our intelligence-led target testing as well as our commitment to investigate the circumstances behind a positive test,” said Brett Clothier, Head of the AIU.

On October 7, 2021, the AIU had pressed charges against Okagbare in relation to separate disciplinary matters.

First, for the presence and use of multiple (two) prohibited substances (human Growth Hormone (HGH) and recombinant erythropoietin (EPO)) for which Okagbare had been provisionally suspended on July 31, 2021, the day on which she had been scheduled to participate in the semi-finals of the Tokyo 2020 women’s 100m.

Subsequently, in accordance with Rule 12 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, she was charged with a refusal to co-operate with the AIU’s investigation into her case. The athlete has the right to appeal against the Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 30-days.

Jamaican Olympian Natoya Goule set a new national record in an impressive win at the women’s 800m at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais, in France, on Thursday.

Goule threw down an early-season marker after winning the event in 1:58.46, which was also a new world-leading time.  The Jamaican finished ahead of Ugandan World 800m champion Halimah Nakaayi who clocked an indoor personal best 1:58.58.  Kenya’s Eglay Nalyanya was third in 2:00.26.

Goule took charge after the pacemaker breezed through the first 400m at 57.56.  The Jamaican was through 600m in 87.64 but was trailed closely by Nakaayi who came into the event with the world lead.

The Ugandan looked comfortable and tried to push past Goule on the inside but was smartly closed off by the Jamaican and did not have the speed to go around down the stretch.

The event marked the first time the Jamaican was going dipping below 1:59:00 indoors and also beat her previous national record of 1:59.13 set in 2019.

Jamaican Olympic sprinter, Shericka Jackson, has secured another significant milestone in her career after becoming the first brand ambassador for the Scotia Group.

Jackson cemented her place in the bank’s 132-year history, in Jamaica, when she signed her first local corporate endorsement deal on Thursday.

The sponsorship arrangement with the financial institution comes months ahead of the 2022 World Athletics Championships scheduled for July 15-24 in the United States and will see the bank giving support to the athlete’s career for the next three years.

The partnership will see the two-time Olympian representing Scotiabank as she competes across the globe and continues to excel both on and off the track.

Audrey Tugwell-Henry, President and CEO, Scotia Group Jamaica, lauded Jackson for her career accomplishments and welcomed her to the Scotiabank family.

“We are beyond elated to welcome Shericka to the Scotiabank family and we are very honoured to be part of her journey. This is a proud ‘first’ for us at Scotiabank and we are very excited to be able to partner with such a dynamic athlete, who is loved both locally and internationally,” she said.

Noting that Scotiabank has been a long-time supporter of sports development regionally, Tugwell Henry shared that the Olympian will also be involved in promoting the many financial solutions that the Bank offers and will be involved in the company’s philanthropic efforts that uplift and inspire young people.

“At Scotiabank, we are big on both youth and sports development, which is evidenced through our various youth sports sponsorships and other community-based ventures over the years. This partnership also perfectly aligns with our overarching philanthropic focus. We look forward to involving Shericka in our future initiatives as she continues to inspire young people to strive for excellence,” Tugwell-Henry shared.

Speaking at the celebratory event held in her honour, Jackson expressed gratitude to Scotiabank for supporting her career and registered her readiness to represent the brand.

“I feel very excited and honoured to be welcomed to the Scotiabank family and I am tremendously grateful to the institution for investing in my abilities and dreams,” the Olympian stated.

“Growing up as a young person in Jamaica, I have always known Scotiabank to be a trusted financial force which has a longstanding reputation of being safe, dependable and innovative - much like my own ongoing ambitions in athletics, and so this partnership represents a perfect synergy for both of us,” Jackson added.

Jackson is a dynamic sprinter who has accumulated numerous medals in the 400 metres, 4x400m relay and most recently, 100, 200 and 4x100m events.  Last year, she won a bronze medal in the 100 metres at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, while forming part of the Jamaican sprint queen trio, that dominated the track throughout the season.  She also won gold for Jamaica at the Tokyo Olympics, running the anchor leg on the Jamaican 4x100m relay team.

She is one of few women to simultaneously run sub-11 and sub-22 seconds in the 100 and 200 m respectively, and have a personal best below 50 seconds in the 400-metre event.

 

 

 

Omar McLeod is now a member of the Olympic training group run by Petros Kyprianou and based at the Episcopal School in Jacksonville, Florida. Last week McLeod, 27, who was a part of the Tumbleweed group since 2019, told athletes in the group that he was leaving.

However, the 2016 Olympic 110m hurdles champion gave no indication of why he had decided to leave or where he intended to go. His agent Mario Bassani declined to shed any light on the move which apparently took many by surprise.

As it turns out, the 2017 World Champion did not move too far away as Kyprianou shed light on his destination with a post on social media on Monday.

“Welcome to the group Omar @_warrior_child_!. Very excited to take this journey with you! Very thankful to @episcopaleagles for helping create this Olympic training group. What a great place to work at…”

Kyprianou joined the coaching staff at the University of Georgia in 2008 as an assistant coach, eventually becoming head coach in 2015. During his time there he won several awards while leading UGA to 11 top-four NCAA finishes in the last five seasons.

In 2017, he was named Women Outdoor Coach of the Year. In 2018, he won the NCAA Indoor Women’s title as well as the Men’s Outdoor title, which resulted in him winning the awards of Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year and the Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year.

However, despite his success there, reports emerged in May 2021 that Kyprianou planned to leave Georgia when his contract expired in June that year.

The Athens Banner-Herald reported that in 2020, he turned down a multi-year extension offered by then-athletic director Greg McGarity and instead took a one-year extension.

In September, News4Jax reported that Kyprianou had joined the coaching staff at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville as the director of sports performance, a rare position in high school athletics.

 Among the athletes he coached at UGA were Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, USA triple jump champion, Kenturah Orji and Jamaican Olympian Chanice Porter.

He has also coached the likes of British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, St Lucia’s Levern Spencer, Maicel Uibo, Lynna Irby and rising sprinter/long jumper Matthew Boling.

 

 

 

 

In a bid to provide its senior athletes with competition as they prepare for the National Championships and other international competitions including the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, later this year, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), in partnership with the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), has launched a series of four meets dubbed the JAAA/SDF Jubilee Series.

The first meet is set to take place on Saturday, February 19 at the National Stadium in Kingston and will begin at 5 pm and end at 7:30 pm.

Each meeting will have 14 individual events with four of them designated as Premium events. The selected premium events for the first meet are the 400m for men and women and the discus for men and women.

 At the end of the premium events, the top three finishers, providing they meet a set minimum standard, will earn a total of one hundred thousand dollars. Winners will receive $50,000, athletes finishing second will win $30,000.00 while third place athletes will bank $20,000.00.  

“It’s up to us to ensure that our athletes, especially those based locally, are given as much assistance as possible in their preparation,” said JAAA President Garth Gayle.

“We have limited resources but thanks to the SDF, who has decided to partner with us, we are able to offer some financial incentive.”

Denzil Wilks, General Manager of the Sports Development Foundation, said his organization is happy to play its part.

“Jamaica’s standing in this sport is second to none. This speaks volumes of the organization that runs the sport locally. The SDF has worked with the JAAA over the years and we have never been disappointed. We have always received value for money. This is just a continuation of that long-standing partnership,” he said.

 Junior athletes will compete earlier in the day between 8:30 and 5:00 pm.

No approval for spectators was granted for the first meet, with only athletes, officials and medical personnel to be allowed entry. Only one meet will be staged in February, with the other three scheduled for between May and June.

Registration for the meet closes on Wednesday, February 16 at 6 pm.

 

 

 

 

Britney Anderson has been on a tear this indoor season with three lifetime best times in her last three races.

Jamaica and Texas A&M high jumper Lamara Distin set the field alight with a new national record and world-leading mark at the Don Kirby Invitational on Friday.

The 21-year-old sophomore recorded a clearance of 1.92m, which bettered her own previous best of 1.88m that had seen her tied on the country’s national best list with two other jumpers, Kimberly Williamson and Sheree Ruff, for second place. 

Her new mark broke the record of 1.90m set in March 2002 by Maresa Cadienhead.  On the way to the record, Distin cleared heights of 1.78m, 1.83m, 1.86m, and 1.89m before soaring to the record and the event title.

The jump also moved Distin ahead of Texas Tech's Sydney Sapp in the NCAA leaders table after both were previously tied at 1.88m.

Jamaica Olympic bronze medallist Shericka Jackson clocked the fastest indoor time of her career over 60m for second place at the Tyson Invitational, held at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Friday.

Making her indoor debut for the season, Jackson clocked a new best of 7.12 but was well behind winner Mary Beth Sant-Price of the United States who clocked 7.04 to win the event. 

Sant-Price’s time is the second-fastest in the world this year behind Eva Swoboda who clocked 7.00 at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting in Lodz.  Another Jamaican, Natasha Morrison finished third in 7.35, with the Bahamas’ Anthonique Strachan fifth in 7.41.  A third Jamaican in the race Shockoria Wallace finished 6th in 7.47.

The men’s equivalent was captured by another Jamaica, Nigel Ellis, who took top spot in 6.90.  His compatriot long jumper Tajya Gayle, who is expected to do more sprinting this season, was second with 6.95, which was also his personal best.

In other events, Jamaica’s Ronald Levy finished third in the men’s 60m hurdles with a time of 7.98.  The event was won by Australia’s Chris Douglas in 7.64, with Jamal Britt second in 7.83.

Danielle Williams stormed to a world-leading 7.75 to win the 60m hurdles at the Tiger Paw Invitational on Friday. In winning, she lowered her previous lifetime best of 7.83 set at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in New York last Sunday.

Tokyo Olympics triple gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah says she has no intention of going after the World Indoor 60m record this season but based on how well she has been training she would not rule out the possibility.

Olympic and world 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod has told his clubmates at Tumbleweed Track Club in Jacksonville, Florida that he is leaving, multiple sources have confirmed for Sportsmax.TV. However, he has given no reason why or indication of where he is headed.

The 43rd Western Relays was launched at the Deja All-Inclusive Resort on the Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in Montego Bay on Tuesday without its long-time sponsor Milo. The meet set for Saturday, February 12, is scheduled to begin at 100:00 am and end at 5:00 PM at the GC Foster College in St. Catherine.

There will be a reduced number of events at this year’s staging because of Covid-related restrictions that include no spectators. Arising from the development, the organizers have arranged to stream the meet live on the TrackAlerts YouTube channel.

The events on the schedule this year include 100m, 400m, 4x100m relays, 4x400m relays, 4x800m relays and the Sprint Medley Relay.

Regarding the absence of the usual title sponsor, Chairman of the Organizing Committee Ray Harvey said that a number of sponsors have come on board to make up for some of the shortfalls of funds to stage a successful but scaled-down version of the meet.

He said he was pleased that the meet was able to return to the calendar for the 2022 season.

"The fact that we didn't have our meet last year told us we should have our meet this year. We did not want to have the two-year hiatus,” Harvey said.

“We have been away from Montego Bay for four years now but that is acceptable but having no meet in is not acceptable.  So despite the early setback of not having Milo's sponsorship we were determined that the 2022 Western Relays should take place.”

  Among the sponsors that have come aboard is the Sports Development Foundation (SDF).

"The history of the event speaks for itself.  When I got the call and I took it to the board, there wasn't any great convincing,” said SDF General Manager Denzil Wilks.

“We all knew what this thing was all about and when we were told that the major sponsor dropped out, we recognized immediately that we couldn't let this one fall by the wayside.”

The Jamaica Olympic Association's (JOA) has also come on board to provide financial support for the meet.

"We are very pleased to be a part of the Western Relays.  We think it’s an important event for the West because it provides the opportunity for young people not only to demonstrate their athletic prowess but also to be educated and grow with the meet in statue,” said President Christopher Samuda.

“We came on board in response to a need and we always respond to needs.  We interface directly with our member associations but certainly when a brief is given to us and we understand that there is a need then we respond positively. “

Also among the sponsors are WATA, Powerade, Custom Marble, Trackalerts, Gibson McCook Relays, World-Class Athletics and On Di Run Events Managements as well as some of Ray Harvey's batch-mates at Nebraska University.

Free of injury and embracing a new mindset are among the key factors why Danielle Williams is enjoying her sport once more.

After a relatively disappointing season in 2021, Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards announced on Sunday that he is determined to make 2022 a better year.

After a disappointing 60m run at the Millrose Games in New York on January 29, Briana Williams ran a massive personal best at the New Balance Grand Prix on Staten Island, New York on Sunday but her coach believes she can go even faster once she breaks out of her ‘starting slump’.

If she can before March, a medal at the World Indoor Athletics Championships could be in the offing.

The 19-year-old Olympic gold medalist opened her season equaling her previous lifetime best of 7.18 at the Purple Tiger meet in Louisiana on January 14 but after promising to go even faster at the Millrose Games, two weeks later, she finished a disappointing fourth in 7.22.

To rub salt into her emotional wound, Williams, the youngest ever Jamaican Olympic gold medalist was beaten by 16-year-old Shawnti Jackson, who equalled the Jamaican’s lifetime best of 7.18, which for her was a personal best as well as an American high school record.

Fast-forward to Sunday and the preliminary heats of the 60m dash where Williams exploded to a brand new personal best of 7.09, which at the time, was the second-fastest time in the world this year. It was the fastest time going into the final that was won by Mikiah Brisco, who caught Williams late in the race before edging in front to record a new world lead of 7.07.

Williams ran her second-fastest time ever, 7.11, for second place.

Her times of 7.09 and 7.11 make her the fastest Jamaican in the world this year, 0.05 faster than Kemba Nelson’s 7.16 set a week ago and 0.14 faster than Kevona Davis’ 7.25.

“My coach and I knew this was coming. It was just for me to have the patience and the right race,” said Williams after her races on Sunday.

“I was happy with my personal best in the preliminaries and to follow that up with 7.11 in the final. There are still things to work on as you can see from the final, but I'm happy with my finish today.”

Among the things she has to work on is getting back the electric start that had defined her career to date as one of the best in the world but which has seemingly deserted her recently.

Williams’ coach, Ato Boldon, believes Williams is primed to go faster but her start has become an issue of concern.

“This is just her third race of the season, her rhythm is better and she is out of the weight room. We still have things to figure out. She is still not starting well,” he said, suggesting that he believes it’s all in her head.

“She is thinking about it. It’s a starting slump.”

Boldon said he would rate her performances on Sunday as an eight-out-ten, believing that once she gets back to instinctively starting well, she will go faster; seven-zero-low.


 

 

 

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