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Paul Wright | All eyes on local anti-doping

Published:Tuesday | October 31, 2017 | 12:20 AMDr Paul Wright

Jason Livermore is a decorated Jamaican track star. He has represented us in Track and Field at the World Relays and the Commonwealth Games. He has won a relay gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and an individual bronze medal in his pet event, the 200m sprint.

Jason Livermore has tested positive for an anabolic steroid, Mestorolone, and a female fertility agent, Clomiphene. He has faced an independent Disciplinary Tribunal of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) and was found guilty. His punishment: banned from the sport for 2 years. Another blot on the sport (Track and Field) that has made this Island nation the envy of the sporting world.

 We, Jamaica, are known as the sprint capital of the world and the home of the greatest Track and Field athlete of our generation: Usain St. Leo Bolt.

 At his hearing on September 11 of this year, Livermore told the panel that he was taking medication prescribed by his medical practitioner for what he described as a “life threatening problem”. His doctor confirmed to the panel that he prescribed the medication for the athlete, while seemingly oblivious to the implications of a drug test result that a national “treasure” could face if tested while on the medication.

Astonishingly Mr. Livermore stated under oath that he never heard of a Therapeutic-use Exemption (TUE) which can be applied for by athletes who are taking prescribed medication for conditions that are “life threatening.” I have written before about the nonchalance of Jamaican athletes when contemplating taking medication and/or supplements while in the cross hairs of anti-doping organisations.
Jason Livermore was in the JADCO testing pool, subject to unannounced random drug testing in or out of competition, in or out of the dates listed by him on his whereabouts information. I do believe and advocate that ALL athletes selected to represent this “little but tallawah” island nation in sports MUST have attended at least two JADCO organised and sanctioned Anti-Doping seminars in order to be eligible for selection.

The world at large does not look kindly at athletes who are caught using anabolic steroids. These drugs enhance performance and are known to have a positive effect on performance long after use and long after the possibility of being outed as a cheat.
At present we have a rudderless anti-doping agency still searching for an Executive Director, while involved in a legal battle with the one the agency is trying to remove from its offices. The Sport Minister was last seen testifying about the goodness and integrity of her family physician, while the nation’s anti-doping organisation (JADCO) is bumbling and stumbling under resourced and subject to supervision by foreign anti-doping agencies.

Doping in sport has reached catastrophic proportions and anti-doping agencies worldwide have come in for what appears to be a kind of forensic scrutiny by cynical fans who are regaled regularly by whistle-blowers who give inside information of corruption by the very agencies that are mandated to keep the sport clean. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has not escaped scandal, as has the IAAF. At present, WADA is under fire for dragging its feet in investigating the claim by a Chinese doctor Xue Yinxian, who in 2012 reported that there is “systematic doping in elite sport” in China.

This information was brought to world attention by a Jamaican, whose track record in fighting for the integrity of drug-free sport is the stuff of legends. Yet, here in Jamaica, it seems as if anyone who has an interest in ensuring that sports in Jamaica, and indeed the world, can stand up to the most forensic scrutiny is sidelined and silenced. It is important that the sponsors and fans of sports believe that the performances that we see, performances that are not only breathtaking, but inspiring, are not actualised by cheats.

Jamaicans deserve a fully resourced and functioning anti-doping agency, run by non-political appointees with the knowledge and expertise in Anti-Doping. It should not and cannot be used to enable executives to “learn as they go”.