CHALLENGING PERCEIVED FINDINGS Public perception that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) is on a witch-hunt for West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell and local sportsmen played a big role in the board of the commission stepping to rule that Executive Director Carey Brown withdraw the appeal against the Jamaican cricketer. Russell was banned from cricket in January, for a year, after being found guilty of three successive whereabouts rule violations. However, a couple months after the hearing, JADCO legal representative Lackston Robinson contested the result by launching an appeal, seeking further retribution for Russell, who, at the same time, submitted a cross-appeal aimed at throwing out JADCO’s appeal as well as the original verdict. Yesterday’s development laid the case to rest, but board chairman Alexander Williams admitted that public interest prompted them to step in and stop the appeal before the hearing started yesterday. SOUGHT LEGAL ADVICE “You don’t have to ask me if it painted JADCO in negative light. We observe the public sphere, and there were a lot of concerns about the appeal. I felt it necessary to seek other legal advice, so I thought it appropriate to get the opinion of the attorney general, and as a consequence of that and other considerations, we withdrew the appeal,” he stated. Vice-president of the board, Zachary Harding, also weighed in, and insisted JADCO is on no witch-hunt, but is, instead, trying to protect compliant athletes and the nation’s image. “All board members are supportive of Brand Jamaica and our image and perception on a global stage. There’s nothing we will ever do to tarnish that. Sometimes people take a view that there is a witch-hunt and JADCO is out to get an athlete; the board would never do that. Everything we do is to protect and support compliant athletes and protect Brand Jamaica,” he said. However, Williams insisted that everything is done within the World Anti-Doping Agency’s guidelines. “This case is of public importance and we want to get this correct, so it was by consultation with the attorney general,” he noted. “It (the appeal) was not necessarily to increase the sanction imposed on Mr Russell, but to challenge the panel’s perceived findings,” he said. He admitted that there were sufficient reasons to file an appeal, although the panel did not state their reason for imposing the year ban, but the board felt the panel considered Russell’s conduct when making the decision. Meanwhile, Russell’s legal representative, Patrick Foster, QC, said he was instructed to withdraw the cross-appeal after JADCO withdrew their appeal. “My client wishes this episode of his life to end. He instructed me not to proceed with the cross-appeal. He has about eight months left to serve and he can start practising with his team two months before he is cleared, so he is just gearing up to perform with the team and move forward,” he stated.