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WADA boss ‘impressed’ with Jamaica’s testing

Published:Wednesday | February 25, 2015 | 2:00 AMShayne Fairman
Ian Allen/Photographer Sir Craig Reedie (right), president, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), speaks to Michael Fennell, president, Jamaica Olympic Association, during a press briefing at the JOA office in Kingston yesterday.

Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), expres-sed satisfaction with gains made by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), noting he is "impressed" with the organisation's efforts to improve its drug-testing programmes.

"I think JADCO has done extremely well," he pointed out. "We (WADA) are proud of what you have achieved.

"You have become an excellent case study because there are many areas of the world which need the enthusiasm and the ability that you have shown."

The revelation was made yesterday at the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) office in Kingston, where Reedie was the official invitee of the JOA.

Jamaica's athletics programme came under scrutiny with revelations there was no out-of-competition testing by former JADCO executive director, RenÈe Anne Shirley, six months before the 2012 London Olympics.

A year later, a number of marquee athletes like Asafa Powell and Olympic medallist Sherone Simpson tested positive for banned substances.

Sprint queen Veronica Campbell-Brown also tested positive for a diuretic, but was cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport because of flaws in the test-collection procedure. That ruling opened JADCO to even more scrutiny.

Reedie said he was satisfied Jamaica's programme was now compliant with WADA regulations.

"The world knows the quality of athletes that you (Jamaica) produce. The world clearly had a degree of concern when it looked as if the proper procedures were messed with a couple of years ago," he said.

"It is now quite clear that much of that has been rectified," Reedie told The Gleaner.

JADCO now carries out more testing with improved staff and more financial support from the government.

Reedie said Jamaica's culture of doing well in sports should be reinforced by fair and drug-free practices.

"You have to get everybody to sign up to this culture. Athletes have to know that once they are in the finals of the Jamaica (trials) or the Olympic Games that everybody understands that they are restricted in the same way and how they compete," he warned.

appreciation

Other stakeholders present were JOA Chairman Danny Williams and Secretary General Christopher Samuda.

Natalie Neita-Headley expressed appreciation for WADA's partnership with Jamaica.

"I want to express my appreciation to the WADA organisation for having established quite early the partnership, not a dictatorship, not a police body, but a partnership with our country," she said, adding that it helped to refine and improve the local anti-doping programme.

JOA President Mike Fennell reiterated Jamaica's commitment to doping-free sports.

"We are a leading player in the world and want to demonstrate that commitment to WADA and the rest of the world," he assured.

JADCO Executive Director Carey Brown said his organisation is hoping to introduce blood testing in April.