Fennell blasts Jamaican doping allegations
Jamaica Olympic Association President Mike Fennell said that he is very concerned about what he describes as "wild allegations" being made that Jamaican athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were not prosecuted for positive tests by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
These allegations were made by German documentary maker Hajo Seppelt, who also said that the Jamaicans, who were not specifically named, had traces of clenbuterol, a banned muscle-building substance, in recent retests of eight-year-old urine samples.
"There's no basis nor foundation for that," Fennell told The Gleaner. "No official or other report has been received from either the IOC or WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) that any of our athletes have been (tested) positive. The fact that some of these have claimed to be found in traces from the retesting is a matter that is left for much speculation."
The IOC also responded to the claims made yesterday, saying that it concluded that there was no pattern of organised cheating after consulting WADA.
"After careful consideration, WADA informed the IOC further to the pattern analysis that the IOC had conducted that WADA could not find any significant and consistent pattern of abuse of clenbuterol in these cases and that it would be appropriate not to take these cases any further," the IOC said in a statement.
The low levels of clenbuterol found, "below 1ng/ml", was in the range to suggest "potential meat contamination cases", the IOC said.
China has a reputation for using clenbuterol in livestock farming to increase animals' muscle, and Olympic athletes were warned of contamination risks before going to Beijing, China.
"The IOC has stated that it's not just Jamaican athletes, but others have the same situation and not to the extent to cause what we'd call an adverse analytical finding or a positive test. With all of these allegations, it's very, very disturbing that people are attacking us like that," Fennell said.
"Why they have sought out Jamaicans is because we still live in a world where people feel that there's no good justification for Jamaica showing very good results. It's a pity they weren't here last weekend to see the incredible talent that we have at the schoolboy and schoolgirl level (referring to the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships). That would have displayed that we are a country with considerable talent."
Fennell said that he's, however, not worried about specific Jamaican athletes being named in the near future.
"I think that the system protects from that, and that's why one has to be careful not to overreact to some of these allegations, because, let's face it, we live in a free world and we must respect the fact that others may have the ability to shape those opinions. But equally, we must be very strong in defending the rights and the cleanliness of our athletes."
Seppelt and German network ARD have consistently revealed and reported on doping scandals, including working with whistle-blowers to expose systematic cheating in Russian track and field.