Jamaica and the World Anti-Doping Agency
Reporting from London and Kingston
[Updated on 25 October, 2013]
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is to send a three-man team to Jamaica on 28 October for a two-day visit after anger from the agency over a proposal for a 2014 date to assess Jamaica's doping inspection tests.
The visit follows a furore over the country’s out-of-competition testing schedule.
WADA had asked to conduct an “extraordinary” audit immediately, after revelations by a former Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) executive director that such tests had not been conducted for some time, because of a lack of resources.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller had invited WADA officials in early 2014.
However, WADA Chief John Farhey reacted angrily this week describing the deferred date for a visit as "farcical".
When asked this week by Britain's Daily Telegraph whether Jamaica was running the risk of being declared non-compliant which could lead to a country ban from the Olympics, Mr Fahey had said that "there are a number of options. You can read into that exactly what those words are likely to mean but I don't want to flag it up."
"The current position is unacceptable to WADA and we're not going to take it lying down, their suggestion that they'll talk to us next year," he said.
"To suggest to WADA they're not ready to meet with us to talk about their problem until some time next year is unsatisfactory, it's totally unacceptable to me and we shall act appropriately within an appropriate time frame."
“Pull JADCO together”
Meanwhile, JADCO, without a permanent executive director since firing the last one, announced the appointment of a new post-holder, chemist Carey Brown, on 24 October.
The Minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, told the Jamaica Gleaner that the new head would have to “pull JADCO together”.
On 22 October, JADCO Chairman Herb Elliott confirmed the new 28-29 October dates for the WADA visit to Radio Jamaica.
Speaking to Caribbean Intelligence’s Dania Bogle in Kingston, Ms Neita-Headley had previously explained the deferred timeframe for the WADA visit to Jamaica.
"We did invite WADA to come here from as early as 5 August and since then we have been in dialogue,” she had said.
“They recommended 15 October. We said to them it's not a good time.
“We are open to a date that is going to be convenient."
Meanwhile, for the athletes with, literally, a track record of extensive testing on the international circuit, the furore over out-of-competition drug testing back home has been a source of concern.
The in-country, out-of-competition tests are meant to be additional to world testing by International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).
This means that Jamaica’s top athletes competing on the world stage still face vigorous testing on the international circuit, in line with global rules around the big meets.
IAAF spokesman Chris Turner told Jamaica’s RJR Sports network that Jamaican athletes had been tested 126 times by the IAAF’s Registered Testing Pool (RTP) in 2012, “making Jamaican athletes the most tested of the RTP”.
Usain Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that the international media had sensationalised the JADCO testing story.
“I have read some terrible articles trying to insinuate that Usain Bolt’s success is false because of this,” Mr Mills told the paper.
For the Jamaican government, Natalie Neita-Headley agrees that the coverage of the JADCO story globally has rained on the Jamaican athletic parade and medal haul of the last few years.
"It is disheartening,” she told Caribbean Intelligence’s Dania Bogle.
“There is nobody in Jamaica right now who can feel good. It is very disheartening for us, because we have been known as a country that has done well on just pure talent.”
The response from the world’s fastest woman has been short and to the point.
The 100m and 200m world champion and Olympic 100m gold medallist, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, has been one of the athletes facing the rigour of international in-competition throughout her medal-winning career.
Asked to comment about the proposed visit by the agency and its timing, she said: "The airports are open and they [WADA] can come at any time."
Jamaicans have been more caustic on social media.
Sports journalists pointed out that some out-of-competition testing had been conducted and had led to some results.
Others lashed out at the former JADCO chair and queried her allegations.
But much of the social media commentary was saved for JADCO itself and its slow response as the row snowballed.
Usain Bolt’s former publicist, sports management expert Carole Beckford, advised that it was time for politicians, technocrats and administrators to “focus on enhancing and re-positioning JADCO”.
“We have more to lose if we don’t,” she said.
Here’s a Twitter joke from DJ and radio announcer Colin Hines:
JADCO. Who dat??
Hold on - could u come back 2morrow? I’m not at home right now!!!”
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