Cunningham escapes with reprimand

Cunningham – File

KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC):

Jamaica’s 800-metre champion Ricardo Cunningham has escaped with only a reprimand after a positive test for the banned substance pseudoephedrine.

A three-member panel delivered the verdict when Cunningham attended a hearing of the Jamaica Anti-doping Disciplinary Commis-sion on Wednesday.

The athlete won the 800m at last year’s championships, but later was found to have tested positive for the substance, an ingredient in cough and cold medicines.

“It was a justifiable result,” declared Paul Francis, Cunningham’s track and field club coach who was present at the hearing.

“He is not a cheat and we are happy he did not get the harsh, harsh hand of the law reserved for cheats.”

Cunningham’s witnesses included doctors and pharmacists who backed his claim that he was suffering from a cold at the time of the trials and took medication for the ailment, which accounted for the low levels of the substance in his system.

According to the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) Code, Cunning-ham could have received a sanction ranging from a reprimand to up to two years for the offence, his first.

“The most important thing is that he now understands we have to be careful with what we put into our bodies,” said Francis. Cunningham was not selected as part of the Jamaica team to last year’s London Olympics after failing to make the qualifying standard.

Dominique Blake, the 400m athlete who also tested positive at the Jamaican Olympic trials, will face the disciplinary panel on March 21.

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