Olympics: Jamaica drug war a 'model'

Jamaican sprinters Yohan Blake (left) and Nickel Ashmeade are among the stars who have faced new blood testing procedures at home.
Jamaican sprinters Yohan Blake (left) and Nickel Ashmeade are among the stars who have faced new blood testing procedures at home.PHOTO: REUTERS

Anti-doping regimen has strong echo for other nations, says its Olympic body's head

KINGSTON • Rio-bound athletes from Jamaica, a nation that is no stranger to doping scandals, went through a drug-testing programme which the head of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) calls a "model for many other countries".

The tiny nation known for producing dominant sprinters has not veered off course since receiving high marks from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) early last year in its efforts towards beefing up drug testing, according to JOA head Mike Fennell.

"We're satisfied that Jamaica has been carrying its responsibility for testing and monitoring anti-doping procedures which can be a model for many other countries," he said, after Jamaica unveiled its 63-member delegation for the Aug 5-21 Olympics.

"I'm very happy to tell you that this is going on so that Jamaica has no fear as far as the organisation of anti-doping matters is concerned."

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) has improved testing since a Wada team visited the Caribbean nation in 2013 and carried out a forensic audit following positive tests by Olympic and World Championships medallists Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Since that time, only cricketers Andre Russell and Odean Brown have committed anti-doping whereabouts violations.

Jadco now has a new board after the previous one resigned in the wake of a drug-testing crisis in 2013 and it introduced blood testing last year in its ongoing fight against drugs in sport.

Fennell also said athletes and officials heading to Rio will be briefed to ensure the Jamaican delegation will be fully up to speed as far as drug testing is concerned.

"The whole world of sports today is dealing with doping or anti-doping issues and Jamaica is no different," said Fennell. "I'd like to make everyone know that from the beginning of this year, we have been in collaboration with Jadco in terms of having a robust testing arrangement, reviewing the registered testing pool for athletes."

Meanwhile, Kenya is investigating newspaper allegations that doctors from the country supplied prohibited performance-enhancing drugs to British athletes.

Undercover footage taken by London's Sunday Times showed two Kenyan doctors and an associate claiming that they had given British athletes erythropoietin (EPO), a banned blood-boosting drug.

Kenyan Sports Minister Hassan Wario said the government has asked the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya to contact its British counterpart, UK Anti-Doping, to provide it with information and help in any further investigations.

"We have started investigations," Mr Wario said at the launch of a pre-Olympics training camp on Tuesday. "We are taking these allegations very seriously... with the Olympics only days away."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Jamaica drug war a 'model''. Print Edition | Subscribe