Drugs in Vincentian sport
In St Vincent and the Grenadines marijuana has been seen as a social drug. The Rastafarian community has taken its cue from the founding fathers in Jamaica and argue for the drug to be recognised for its religious and medicinal purposes.
Another social drug, alcohol, is readily accepted with impunity by the society. Both social drugs are therefore commonplace in the state.
It is not surprising therefore that in 1992 there was much concern about marijuana usage among sportsmen and sportswomen in Vincentian society. When the authorities in Football sought to ‘bell the cat’ a few years later by calling for periodic checks on the players for marijuana usage there was something of an uproar.
Despite the fact that marijuana is still illegal and every now and then an individual is hauled before the courts of the country for being in possession of the odd spliff, the governmental authorities in sport have never seen it fit to engage itself in tandem with sports authorities to address this problem.
The more recent pervasiveness of cocaine as another social drug in St Vincent and the Grenadines may well be cause for concern among the sport fraternity.
Addressing the problem
The sport fraternity in St Vincent and the Grenadines was rocked back some time ago when overseas-based world-ranked athlete, Natasha Mayers, tested positive for testosterone. It is not enough for us to suggest that since she has been out of the country from a very early age she was not directly under the watch of the local Athletics governing body. The world does not care about that and neither should we. The reality is that her positive test meant global embarrassment for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
This example, sad as it is, should place us all on guard. We cannot simply relax and conduct business as usual.
The local sports fraternity must now embark on a comprehensive educational programme about the positive impact of sport on the individual and that sport is a very powerful tool for enriching the family as a social unit, the school as a miniature community and the society at large, all at once. Parents must be positive role models to their own children in this regard.
National sports associations must engage in ongoing education of their athletes, coaches and officials about seeing the positives in sport participation. Education programmes must also address the WADA Code and the importance of avoiding the use of substances designed to facilitate winning at all cost.
Athletes, coaches, officials, physicians and parents must understand that the use of performance enhancing substances to gain a competitive advantage over others is cheating and that cheating destroys the very social fabric of society in the long term.
There are those who believe that sport has the capacity to bold character in individuals and enrich society. They believe that sport builds communities, enriches families and is an instrument of peace and harmony among peoples.
The use of illegal substances ruins the chances of the foregoing being realised.
Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines we must do our part of building bridges of hope for our future. We must save our youths.
We can commit now to making sport the ‘weapon of choice’ of our youth to live full lives.