Over the past few days it seems that every media entity in the world has been reporting about Jamaica’s embarrassing anti-doping situation. They have been publishing multiple reports about Jamaican athletes failing drug tests and how the local anti-doping agency has been found wanting and now telling the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that now is not a good time to accommodate what is being described as an ‘extraordinary’ audit of the period between February and July 2012.

That is the period when JADCo only conducted only one out of competition test in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Jamaica failed to do those tests, it says, because they did not have test kits available nor did they have the funds to purchase new ones – the limitations of trying to run an aggressive drug programme on a shoe-string budget. It is no secret that Jamaica is as broke as they come with debt amounting to 150 per cent of GDP. Seventy cents of every dollar earned, or borrowed, goes toward servicing the island’s crippling debt. Whatever remains pays public-sector salaries, fixes roads, equips hospitals, and such. There is very little to go round. That we have the world’s best sprinters doesn’t help the situation.

Truth is, since sport is such a very important facet of our daily lives and the fabric of what makes us a great sporting nation, more resources need to be put into the budget for the five-year-old anti-doping agency. It is also essential for us to protect the integrity of our athletic performances given that the nation just happens to be home to six-time Olympic champion and eight-time World champion Usain Bolt, the greatest sprinter that ever lived. The last thing we want to do is have people question his performances. By the way, Bolt was tested 12 times by the IAAF last year.

In the last two years, JADCo has faced significant challenges. They need to fill critical positions that will ensure that the commission is compliant with the WADA Code but that they need to fill those positions is of their own doing, considering that the persons who filled those positions previously left them out of frustration. Some claim they were being forced out because they came into those positions under the previous administration. Some of those persons with years of experience were being asked to interview for their own jobs once their contracts expired. This, despite being favourably evaluated prior to the expiration of those contracts. So they left leaving creating the vacancies.

Ann Shirley was appointed Executive Director in July 2012, more than six months after the post was vacated by Patrice Charles, the former ED who departed to pursue political ambitions. Shirley didn’t last long because she reportedly abused her staff to the extent that she was asked by the board of commissioners to work from home. In subsequent interviews Shirley conceded she was a bully.

She was fired and in May, four-time Olympian Cathy Rattray Samuel acted as ED until mid-August when she too departed.

Word is that a new ED has been selected, but there is still no word on whether other key positions have been filled. Could this be the reason why WADA could not be accommodated at this juncture? May be, but there is a lot of truth in the fact that the agency is also preparing for the upcoming hearings for the five Jamaican athletes who failed drug tests at the national trials in June.

This brings me back to the issue of testing. While WADA is rightfully concerned about the lack of testing by JADCo during the afore-mentioned period, track and field’s governing body, the IAAF, has said publicly that it is not terribly concerned. This is because they aggressively tested Jamaica’s elite athletes during that period when JADCo experienced a ‘breakdown’ in testing. Something that Ann Shirley didn’t really mention in her expose’ in Sports Illustrated. But just this week, the IAAF revealed that they tested 32 Jamaican athletes ‘aggressively’ throughout throughout the year. Nineteen Jamaican athletes in their testing pool were tested 126 times throughout the year. That works out to more than six tests per athlete, which is an even higher rate than athletes from the USA were tested. That fact has been largely overlooked and I am wondering why.

Yes, JADCo dropped the ball during that period in question but the IAAF picked it up and ran hard with it.

It is easy to be suspicious but when you factor in all the information available things don’t seem all that sinister. It would help if there was greater transparency at JADCo, no doubt. When you punch well above your weight class in any sport, it will raise eyebrows and you need to be able to stand up to public scrutiny; welcome it even, so that your athletes are not looked upon suspiciously.

However, critics of the beleaguered agency need to stop isolating the information they use in their critique the JADCo, and start painting the broader picture. Yes, the JADCo has issues with its programme that needs to be addressed. They need to fill key positions and they need to be up to code, but here is the thing. The six track and field athletes who failed drug tests were all ‘caught’ here in Jamaica. Not anywhere else. Steve Mullings failed drug tests here, so did Julian Dunkley. The greater share of those who have failed tests, failed them at home. So something is being done right here. It’s not like JADCo has folded its arms and allowed doping to run amok. That little piece of information needs to be added to the conversation as well.

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  1. bwanandbred-ahywad says:

    such an informative and balanced article.

    I hope the ignorant critics will arm themselves with the facts and be more reasoned in their attempt to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”

  2. dallo says:

    This is some sinister stuff. With all the noise we’ve been hearing about the lack of testing in early 2012, just now we find out how active the IAAF was in Jamaica.

    Of course, this in no way absolves JADCO from blame, but it does show how far haters will go in muddying the waters and casting doubt on the legitimacy of our athletes’ performances. Once again, we’re reminded of how careful ones must be about things we hear or read; that there are lies of commission and then there are lies of omission.

  3. Carl says:

    If these athletes are clean then they will have nothing to hide….right? :) why the strong arguments against the doubts. Obviously these athletes know the system and think they have an upper hand advantage. Watch, next year Bolt will not break 9.8 due to the new doping regime.

  4. Frankie says:

    Thank you father that someone is able to put this entire matter in its proper context. The sad thing is that JADCO would be in possession of this information and is not even able to defend itself. And by the way, where is JAAA? Sleeping at the wheel as per usual.

  5. Wendell says:

    Great article. All those articles are subjective and looking to make a name ironically at our expense.

  6. Allan Hay says:

    Jamaican sport lovers, at home and abroad, must welcome this article and it’s disclosure of the true facts about the drug-testing of our athletes. We must also seriously question the motives of people such as Ann Shirley and her “expose” regarding the failures of JADCO, because Ms. Shirley’s “disclosures” and similar articles have left (I presume, with deliberate intent,) the impression that because of JADCO’s failings Our athletes were left to go “wild” on grug abuse leading up to the London Olympics, hence our outstanding performances and success.

    This article however, sheds light on the picture with far more honest revelations.
    Which, may I ask, is more transparent, reliable and publicly acceptable – a hometown clearance of our athletes from JADCO or the clearly unbiased testing of the IAAF? While in no way absolving JADCO of its failings, if our athletes were tested 126 times in 2012 (interestingly, more than even the US athletes) why is Ms. Shirley and her ilk so determined to plant the seed of incompetence and deception by JADCO in the minds of everyone, especially those who already jealously begrudge our country the little glory we deserve? Does she not realize, or is she so bitter against JADCO that in her determination to “expose” them she is diabolically unconcerned with the damage she is wreaking on our athletes and their aids who are putting their all on the line to earn those hard fought-for medals and glory for themselves and their country?

    Now that the true “facts” are out there for all to see and understand, the Government and all concerned with the oversight of sports at all levels in Jamaica, must do everything possible to lift this cloud of doubt and suspicion from our program, especially as it relates to our elite athletes. JADCO must be properly funded, supervised and held accountable to ensure that from now on, the requirements of WADA, the IAAF and all other international spots bodies are fulfilled so that everything is above board and unquestionable when our athletes appear on the world stage.

    In the meanwhile, so long as our athletes are being tested and cleared by WADA and other international entities like the IAAF, who are far more interested in “disgracing and humbling” our little country and it’s athletes than in exonerating us, let us hold our heads high and encourage our athletes to continue rewriting the record books while earning more income for themselves and glory for Jamaica – Land We Love!

    Ann Shirley, Carl Lewis and all jealous, like-minded sadists, eat your hearts out!

  7. Erick says:

    I doubt whether Jadco has the capability to test for the hundreds of drugs on Wada’s list. They must have been sending their samples abroad.

  8. Patrick says:

    Hey writer you should put your name on your article because if you did your investigation on this report and it is correct,I would really like to commend you for a great job. That said. Even though JADCO still has a lot to be desired,if there was anything funny going on big brothers” IAAF..WADA ” would’ve let the world know,come on now we’re a little island kicking the worlds”ask me no” and they don’t like it.

  9. dallo says:

    While we’re on this subject, why is it so hard for our ‘government’ to prioritize and get key things done? We talking things like a nice water supply system, something that is so essential and benefits everybody. Why is there no continuity between regimes on critical stuff that one party starts? The literacy drive we had one time comes to mind.

    Take this situation for example…every jack man and woman in Ja would like to see our anti-doping system set right. It’s like a mandate given to the powers that be, ‘do what you gotta do to sort this out, even at the expense of something else’, right? And we still hear like we can’t find the couple dollars. Are we shameless or what?

  10. chippy blocks says:

    As a Patriotic Jamaican who lives abroad, I find find in incredible that we find our self in this situation. Whether JADCO was testing an adequate amount of athletes or not the fact is that our athletes are the most tested in the world even during Merlene Ottey’s time so it would be virtually impossible for our athletes to get away with doping.
    I have to defend our athletes everyday against people who do not understand our sporting tradition and in particular our Track And Field exploits. We as Jamaicans should not do or say anything to cast doubt on our athletes great
    accomplishments. I can’t believe that Ann Shirley would deliberately cast this big cloud over our nation but as my father always say “You must think before you put your mouth into gear”.
    This too shall pass and we as a nation will rise up. Big up Jamaica the land of my birth.

  11. Denise65 says:

    Thank you for a balanced article, but a couple points to note.
    1) Yes, the IAAF have been strenuously testing the Jamaican athletes but you don’t mention that these tests are pre-arranged and before competitions, so the athletes are able to make sure that any illegal substances are removed from the body. The way to catch the drug cheats and make athletics a level playing field for all is to ramp up unannounced out of competition testing and this is where JADCO need to step up. Let’s face it, Jamaica is not a huge country, how difficult is it for a JADCO official to turn up at an athlete’s address and request a sample? Relatively easy to do since most of the Jamaicans train in their own country!!
    2) Agreed, the Jamaican athletes were “caught” in Jamaica. Again, not as a result of any actions by JADCO but the by the IAAF testing.

  12. super soldier says:

    agree…ignorance is bliss…lack of funds hindering jamaica….cheaters are been caught because Jamaica is too poor to mask illegal drugs in their system like the rich countries can

  13. 876kid says:

    No tests are done in Jamaica, only collection of samples. Our samples are sent to a WADA lab in Montreal (the same city WADA is headquartered) for testing.

    Shirley’s revelation could not have been news to WADA. They got no samples to test, therefore they must have realised from that point that no testing was done.

    Either that or their administrative operations are so poor they did not realise.

    Which is it?

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levyl Posted by: levyl October 16, 2013 at 8:05 am