Jamaica under threat from WADA over testing

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Over one year since the London Olympics the World Anti Doping Agency, WADA, has announced an audit of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) after its former executive director, Renne Anne Shirley, claimed out-of-competition testing was virtually non-existent between January and July 2012.

The London 2012 Games proved significant for Jamaican athletics as Usain Bolt became the first man to complete the ‘double-triple’ of sprint titles. Despite these triumphant acts, WADA director general, David Howman, claimed there was “a significant gap of no testing” in the months leading up to the games. 

Back in August, evidence emerged that Jadco completed a insignificant 106 anti-doping tests in the whole of 2012. None of these tests resulted in positive findings, with 68 perfomed out-of-competiton, and 38 at meets. According to Shirley, who resigned from her post in February this year, all of these tests were completed in May and June 2012 at the Kingston Invitational meeting and the Jamaican National trials. For a country at the top of the athletics mantra, to perform fewer tests than Iran (181) has raised questionmarks over the credibility of its athletes. 

In a recent interview, Howman said the long periods of no testing by Jadco and Shirley’s disclosure, directly resulted in the planned audit: “There was a period of – and forgive me if I don’t have the number of months right – but maybe five to six months during the beginning part of 2012 where there was no effective operation. No testing. There might have been one or two, but there was no testing. So we were worried about it, obviously.”

WADA’s audit, set to take place at the end of this year or the start of 2014, will run at the same time as disciplinary hearings for several of Jamaica’s top athletes are due to take place.

The countries prominence as the world’s leading sprint-nation took a huge blow earlier this year as Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson all tested positive for doping offences.

Shirley’s recent allegations have cast more shadows over a sport which is struggling to maintain its reputation as ‘clean’. Herbert Elliott, Jadco chairman, has quashed Shirley’s claims stating they were exaggerated and whilst at the Olympic holding camp in Birmingham, athletes were met by “droves” of drug-testers every day.

Despite this negative portrayal, the IAAF have confirmed that there was a “robust and comprehensive” drug-testing system for Jamaican athletes, including  Bolt, who was tested more than a dozen times throughout the Olympic year.