Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
While acknowledging that the country might not be at the ideal standard in terms of its anti-doping fight, minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, believes much improvement has been made and that the Government is committed to doing even more.
Neita-Headley's comments were in response to an article that appeared in this week's Sports Illustrated where former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), Renée Anne Shirley chided the Jamaican government for what she deems its failure to seriously deal with doping control despite several recommendations and warnings.
"We were doing well in sports long before we knew what supplements were. We were doing good in sports long before anybody was ordering anything on the internet. Jamaica is a sporting destination and we will continue to be so," Neita-Headley expressed.
"Nevertheless, we remain committed to ensuring that all is in place and that we reach the ideal of ensuring that we are always compliant with what world standards are."
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) director general David Howman had said, in an Associated Press report yesterday, that Shirley's revelations raised several 'serious issues' which should be addressed.
When asked, however, if WADA has been in contact with the country's government with regards to the issue, Neita-Headley's response was "absolutely not."
Neita-Headley declined to comment directly about a past senior employee of JADCO coming out and making such damning remarks about the country's anti-doping efforts.
"A lot of things are unfortunate, but we have very little control over people and their personalities," Neita-Headley expressed. "I think what is important is that the programme can stand up to scrutiny. That is what is going to be important and if we do have shortfalls that we seek to address them. The sports programme is more important than any person or personality."
The credibility of the country's athletics programme came under serious scrutiny when five of the island's athletes returned adverse analytical findings last month. That last bout of positive test results came on the heels of a failed test by Veronica Campbell-Brown in June.
The samples from which the five adverse findings were returned had been taken at the National Junior and Senior Championships in June by local anti-doping officials while Campbell-Brown's sample was taken at the Jamaica International Invitational in May by a team comprising local representatives, but led by an IAAF official.