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Boxing board out of control
“There may be some negative impact on my career but I think this case will actually move the sport forward based on what has happened here.” That is mighty “thick skinned” of Ria Ramnarine to say, after the latest bobol within the boxing community. But I feel it is overly optimistic. Boxing has regressed in many facets because of this situation and I am gravely disappointed. I am disappointed because Ramnarine’s situation has undone what she and Giselle Salandy had pioneered for women in male-dominated sports, such as boxing, in T&T. They were breaking the glass ceiling, forcing us to question our ideological system of gender roles and values in Trinbago. They were putting our small, developing country on the international map of socially progressive nations.
But then it all came crashing down, sending us right back to square one, and once again forcing us to ask the question can Trinbagonian women participate and be internationally successful in male-dominated, high contact sports? This question has two aspects, one involving the female gender, and the other concerning Trinbagonian management. I will begin with the latter. From what I have gathered from media reports, the T&T Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC) and Ramnarine’s camp must take the public for fools. There is such contradictory information and beating around the bush coming from both parties that it seems that corruption, lies and “face-saving” are the order of the day, and that the future of local women’s boxing and Ramnarine’s career are unimportant issues.
TTBBC’s decision to withhold the report of Ramnarine’s hearing from the WBA and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) reeks of politics, egotism and dishonesty. Apparently, in the report there was no mention of the norandrostendione that WADA found in Ramnarine’s urine. Rather, it was referred to as “the adverse analytical finding.” In addition, TTBBC’s disregard of WADA’s rules requiring a two-year ban for testing positive for illegal substances and for failure to submit to a doping test, and chairman of TTBBC Dr Kenneth Smith’s bold statement that “we are the local boxing authority in control of boxing in T&T and we don’t have to answer to anybody,” screams that they have something to hide. Was it not reported that Dr Smith was previously involved in supporting Ramnarine’s fights alongside “Special Advisor” to TTBBC, Buxo Potts, Ramnarine’s former promoter?
How can people who were involved in promoting Ramnarine, then serve as officials at her hearing? Where is the impartiality in this? Are they refusing to submit the report because it will uncover this bobol and incompetence? Furthermore, how could a ban be retroactive? A ban is a ban, and if Ramnarine is to be penalised for nine months, then those nine months should begin from the day the ruling is made. As of now, Ramnarine has done just one month of “time” and has not been held accountable.
What kind of example is this to other athletes? But boxing matches make money for people, and since Ramnarine’s management was and is so closely linked to TTBBC, it follows that the ban would be retroactive. Smell a rat yet? Newspaper reports say that Ramnarine’s camp insists that the norandrostendione found in her urine was for “regulation” and “control” of her menstrual cycle, that “the boxing board found no performance enhancing medication,” that “norandrostendione, a detectable metabolite of nandrolone, was within the agency’s regulations,” and that “the Board made its decision based on the fact that Ramnarine had not taken the test directly after the fight.”
However, Dr Smith contradicted Ramnarine’s camp stating “What we found in her system was contrary to what should have been. Once she has prohibitive substances in her system though, we must find her guilty.” Get your stories straight fellas! This time I have to agree with Dr Smith. In my humble opinion, Ramnarine’s defence holds little weight. The bottom line is that norandrostendione is an internationally banned substance because it is a performance-enhancing drug and it was found in her urine. Whether or not she was prescribed the drug for controlling her periods (it really makes them irregular) is not the issue. The fact is that she had an ergogenic substance in her system, which gives her an unfair advantage over her presumed “clean” opponent.
Ramnarine seems to come across as innocent in the melee. Her “contributory negligence,” if in fact it was sincere negligence, is quite irresponsible and naïve. According to Dr Smith the drug “was not a deliberate attempt to enhance her performance but her doctor told her that it was to advance her menstrual cycle.” In this day and age it is difficult to believe that this thirty-two year-old professional athlete was unable to clarify what was being put into her body, and recognise that the drug was still a steroid, an ergogenic aid, and therefore a banned substance.
Ramnarine has probably had a difficult time proving herself in this male-dominated, violent sport. It is the antithesis of “feminine” and of the typical societal female gender roles. But she has now unravelled all the work she has done to break that glass ceiling. She has shattered the pedestal upon which young girls once held her, becoming a less than ideal role model, causing them to ask, “Can women really handle such sports without taking drugs?” “Do our periods really prevent us from competing in these kinds of sports?”
Ramnarine’s camp seems to exploit the menstrual cycle, using it as an excuse for her illegal action. It unearths the underground socio-cultural feelings of the female cycle as a hindrance, a curse where women are deemed unclean and unfit. Ultimately, this excuse facilitates the old school belief that the menstrual cycle makes women weak. Apart from the gender issues, the actions of TTBBC and Ms Ramnarine have called her training under local management into question. Must our local women dope up because their training/management is not sufficient to allow them to be successful at international boxing championships? So can Trinbagonian women really participate and be internationally successful in male-dominated, high contact sports? I’d say the evidence above is clear, but you tell me.
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