“For more than a decade, WADA has worked steadfastly to foster fairer competition and more effective education and outreach programs that encourage the values of doping-free sport… the biggest constraint ahead for WADA is limited funding. For the second consecutive year, WADA’s Foundation Board voted to keep the 2013 budget frozen at approximately $28 million, the same level of funding received in 2011, because governments did not agree to provide any additional funding.”
The statement above came from outgoing president of the World Anti-Doping Commission Jeff Fahey, the man who has threatened to have Jamaica banned from the Olympics if it does not get its anti-doping programme up to speed. It would mean that some of the world’s best track and field athletes including Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Yohan Blake, and Warren Weir, would not be able to compete at the Rio Games in 2016.
The absence of these athletes would rob the games of much of its lustre as the sprints are still among the main drawing cards at the Olympic Games. Why? Because Fahey would choose to bully Jamaica into doing something it wants to do, plans to do but has issues doing primarily because of a lack of funding.
It is not a secret that Jamaica is broke. Debt amounting to 150 per cent of GDP has seen the economy grind to a virtual halt as the nation struggles to free itself of the shackles imposed by the untenable debt situation. With about a third of the nation living before the poverty line, jobs hard to come by, and crime racing towards record levels, the government is hard-pressed to find money to spend on the things that will help remedy the situation.
It goes without saying then that in such an environment finding money to fund a much-needed anti-doping programme is kind of like trying to find water in the middle of the Sahara.
Yes, Jamaica needs to get it’s struggling, fledgling but compliant agency up to the very best of world standards given the success of its track and field athletes over the past five years especially, but the reality is that it is not going to be easy to do. Despite some administrative bungling over the past two years, a big part of the issues that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) faces is inadequate funding. JADCO’s meagre budget of $27.9 million Jamaican dollars for 2011/2012 was doubled for 2012/2013 and was further bumped up to $63.4 million or the 2013/2014 financial year.
On paper it might look like a lot but when one factors in devaluation and inflation, it is not all that much. The value of the Jamaican dollar has depreciated by about 15 per cent since 2011 and is now at about J$106 to one US dollar, while inflation has been estimated at about 10 per cent per year since that time. Things are hard here in Jamaica and this means hard times for everyone including those running the JADCO.
So when it comes to funding what is different between the woes that WADA faces and those faced by this impoverished Third World nation? If anything Jamaica is much worse off.
WADA likes to pretend it is not aware of the economic climate in Jamaica as it embarks on its bullying of Jamaican authorities using threats of expulsion from the Olympics to force them into raising standards at JADCO. But like WADA, JADCO has financial issues too.
“The Agency must be well-equipped to continue to fight the good fight. Without integrity, there can be no genuine achievement,” the WADA president says. It is something that the Jamaican authorities are well aware, but like Fahey’s WADA, Jamaica too has a money problem, a much bigger one.