JAMAICA’S IMAGE has taken a battering in Italy


JAMAICA’S IMAGE has taken a battering in Italy as a result of the positive dope tests of ace sprinter Asafa Powell and countrywoman Sherone Simpson, Italian consul to Jamaica, Carla Gullotta, told The Gleaner from her homeland.

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“It is serious, and I am so very sorry and concerned that this can somehow compromise the beautiful image of Jamaican athletes, and Jamaica, in front of the whole world,” Gullotta said.

She said that Italian newspapers have been carrying articles which indicate that the positive tests have been seen as disheartening and pitiful.

“Their wins and their talents were looked at as something new happening in the scenario of sports. People are very sorry and they hope it is not true,” Gullotta said.

She said focus has been turned on the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, “praying that he is not involved in the same thing because they say Bolt represents something for Jamaica, something for the rest of the world”.

Gullotta pointed to a newspaper with a headline which screamed, ‘Bolt surrounded by doping in the Jamaica of poison’.

She said the article, which spans two pages, contains an image of the island with the Jamaican flag.

“Everybody said that they hoped that King Usain is not involved,” Gullotta said.

She noted that Jamaican athletes are extremely popular in Italy.

“In Italy, they were so popular and are so popular, and so I just hope that there will be some way out. I really pray with all my energy that Jamaican athletes will come out clean,” Gullotta said.

“There is a very high level of concern and stress because they say they were looking like radiant examples of a new sport for poor countries that are showing that talent is bigger than heavy money.”

Gullotta told The Gleaner that the nature of the investigations is very serious, noting that Powell and Simpson have been interviewed.

“They are being investigated to find out if the substance they were using is illegal, according to the international medical tests,” Gullotta said.

Italian police confiscated unknown substances in a search of hotel rooms where Powell and Simpson were staying after each tested positive for banned stimulants.

The rooms, including that of physical trainer Christopher Xuereb of Canada, were searched on Monday. Drugs and muscle supplements were seized.

Gullotta said the “investigations are police investigations and it is a special body dealing with drugs. … That body is the one that is acting in all the situations where somebody is acting in drug dealings, in terms of using the drugs or smuggling the drugs.”


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