KINGSTON – The World’s Anti-doping Agency is to launch an “extraordinary” audit of Jamaica’s drug-testing agency following allegations that its policing of the island’s track athletes all but collapsed in the months before the London Games.
“It’s an extraordinary visit,” WADA’s director general David Howman said.
“Jamaica is a high priority, they’re on our radar,” he added.
The investigation comes after the former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco), Renee Anne Shirley, revealed a near complete breakdown in the island’s out-of-competition testing from January 2012 to the July opening of the Olympics.
WADA confirmed that there was, as Shirley asserted, “a significant gap of no testing” as Jamaican athletes trained in the months ahead of the Games, and that it would investigate.
International Olympic Committee medical officials, WADA and Britain’s anti-doping agency, which also worked on London’s huge drug-testing programme, revealed that they were kept in the dark about the Jamaican testing lapses that Shirley exposed in an August letter to the media.
“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,” Howman said.
“There might have been one or two, but there was no testing. So we were worried about it, obviously,” he added.
Jamaican runners did not go completely untested into the Games.
Track and field’s governing body, the IAAF, said it extensively tested the elite Jamaicans and that Usain Bolt was tested more than 12 times last year.
He has never failed a drug test.
In London, Jamaica won eight of 12 individual sprint medals.
Bolt became the first man to win both the 100 and 200 metres at consecutive games and anchored Jamaica’s relay victory in world-record time.
While WADA has audited Jamaica’s testing regime in the past, Howman said its fresh initiative was in direct response to the problems Shirley exposed and the positive doping tests this year of five athletes who competed for Jamaica in London.
WADA is unhappy that Jamaica has not agreed to a swift inspection.
The Jadco chairman Herbert Elliott said it could not accommodate the auditors at the date WADA wanted and was not expecting the visit before the end of the year.
“It doesn’t over-impress us,” Howman said. “If there’s going to be that sort of delay, you need to have a better reason.”
Among the five positive tests were the former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, the Olympic 4x100m silver medallist Sherone Simpson and the sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown, whose case is being reviewed by the IAAF.