KINGSTON – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says that Jamaica is at risk of expulsion from the Rio 2016 Olympics and other major competitions if the country fails to address its deficient testing procedure for athletes.
WADA director general David Howman urged the island’s government to investigate claims by the former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCo) Renee Anne Shirley that its drugs-testing programme was completely inadequate. Shirley accused Jamaica’s politicians and sports administrators of ignoring her warnings that the positive tests returned by Asafa Powell and four other athletes were a “disaster” waiting to happen, saying: “They believe Jamaica does not have a problem,” UK newspaper the Telegraph reported.
Howman warned that if the country refused to take its responsibilities seriously, WADA could deem the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCo) non-compliant with the WADA code, which could have dire consequences for the country’s elite athletes, including world champion Usain Bolt.
”Our normal approach if we have issues falling into the category of either complaint or concern is to try to work with the particular signatory – in this case the NADA [National Anti-doping Agency] – and remedy it,” Howman said. “If nothing happens, we can ask our board to declare any of the signatories non-compliant and that has implications as to whether teams from the country would be admitted into various events. ”We report the non-compliance to people who can then consider whether other sanctions ought to follow. That would be the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] and so on.”
Shirley went public with her concerns this week in an article for US magazine Sports Illustrated and a follow-up interview on CNN.
“We were certainly concerned by the comments and would anticipate that the government and the agency itself would be appropriately responding,” Howman said.
“It’s serious. And I think that if responsible people in Jamaica are looking at it then they will address it. I would be disappointed if they didn’t. But, certainly, if there’s a lack of response then it’s something that we at Wada would want to take up with the Jamaican government.”
WADA was heavily involved in helping Jamaica establish JADCo around the 2008 Olympics and Howman defended its efforts to make it a world-class testing programme after women’s sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce returned an adverse finding three years ago. Shirley revealed that JADCo conducted just one out-of-competition test in the five months leading up to London 2012, something Howman admitted WADA had also been aware of.
“We’ve worked closely with Jamaica for a number of years. I was down there a few years ago to try to look after issues we felt needed to be addressed and they were then addressed by the government of the day,” Howman said. ”We knew that there was a spell in Jamaica where they didn’t have a CEO and there was a spell when they were not conducting testing and we didn’t know the reason for that. But that was certainly something that we became aware of.
“There was a gap where there was nothing because the previous CEO resigned to take up a political appointment or to seek election in the government. We were worried about that.”
Howman refused to reveal whether WADA had contacted JADCo or the Jamaican government after Shirley’s article, describing such discussions as “confidential”.
He added “We’ve had a pretty cordial relationship with the prime minister, who used to be the minister of sport. We’ve had no problem in the past in communicating with her and meeting with her and addressing issues that are of concern. So I would anticipate that ease continuing if it reached the situation of requiring it.”