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Is It Really About Carter?

In a world that is more fractured than ever it seems as though yet another successful, male, black role model seems to be up for the lynching, and it’s not Nesta Carter.

If you can’t manage to bring down the man who shattered records and dominated his field, then by all means do your best to discredit those around him and besmirch his name by proxy.

News broke this week that Nesta Carter tested positive for use of a drug, the name of which I won’t hazard to pronounce, in the 2008 Olympic Games. Which means that he would put in jeopardy any personal or team medals won that year.

But I can’t help but think this is more than just about Nesta Carter when I notice that the name that graces most of the headlines and tickers and leading sports stories isn’t his. The name of the fastest man alive has been splashed across every screen and top sporting story for the last few days. And for what? Just to sell papers, subscriptions and increase viewership?

Let’s be honest, this story would not have as much traction as it did if it carried Nesta Carter’s name alone. When I googled Nesta Carter’s name, the image below bears my results.

(The top stories seem to show a bias in the headlines.)

Firstly, and the sporting pundits and experts would better explain this than me, but, I don’t see how eight years later, Nesta Carter’s sample comes up for a ‘random sample’ of 454 athletes who were to be retested and is found positive for banned substances not previously discovered. Wasn’t his sample tested back then? Why wait till now? And if he was cleared then, why is he guilty now?

I’m sure I’ll be told that sampling methods have gotten more specific, and it’s just routine—so be it.

Secondly, I can’t turn a blind eye and say that Caribbean athletes are all without their vices, and would never be tempted to cheat, I’d be a fool. But the white elephant in the room stands over six feet tall, turned thirty last August and has become the face of athletics and the new name to beat the world over.

He has a legacy. A legacy that may inspire many a young, black male around the world to aspire to something greater and achieve. To be positive in the face of criticism, push forward and give his best even when the odds seem stacked against him.

In a world that is more fractured than ever it seems as though yet another successful, male, black role model seems to be up for the lynching, and it’s not Nesta Carter.

In the last week whose name made the headlines? Whose record has been touted as having to be adjusted? Whose ‘triple triple’ is now considered under threat? Not Nesta Carter.

Whose image graces the headlines, whose trademark, race winning stance has be splashed across the news feeds? Not Nesta Carter.

Imagine if the headlines had run only with Nesta Carter’s name in them, eight years since the incident and four since his last real claim to fame? The major news agencies wouldn’t be leading with his face, his name and his record.

His last major claim to fame was in the London Games as part of the Jamaican 4 x 100 men’s relay team, winning gold yet again. Will this too be called into question? No doubt. The media may — no doubt with lightning speed — start questioning whether 2012 blood and urine samples should be re examined by the IOC. And whose name will they call? Surely Carter’s but he won’t be who the story will be about. Not really.

In all of this we are not so much as hearing about Yohan Blake’s career, or that of Asafa Powell or other teammates. Instead we hear about the fastest man alive.

Is it fair to align him with this notoriety when it clearly isn’t his story but Nesta Carter’s? Should I be his lawyer I’d probably eat the news agencies for lunch, but then I’d just get hungry again tied up in lengthy and costly—most likely fruitless —civil suits.

The IOC is well with its rights to retest when they so choose, I’m sure there is a system for it. But the media isn’t the IOC.

The most famous face in athletics is on public ‘trial by media’ just as much as Nesta Carter is with the IOC. They mercilessly tie his name to the Carter scandal every chance they get, just because they ran on the same team and won. Just because he held, and probably still holds, the most impressive track record in history. Because over the years, he’s managed to win the hearts of people and nations all around.

But what’s most important here is the fact that it is not his scandal, but Nesta Carter’s, yet it is his reputation and the career that the media chooses to immortalized beside it.

The IOC has it’s job to do; but so so does the media. Place the emphasis where it belongs, on Nesta Carter, not on the more popular teammate of the man involved in the scandal.