André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Top Jamaican track and field coach Glen Mills, while admitting that there is room for improvement in Jamaica's anti-doping efforts, blasted sections of the international community for what he believes to be unfair targeting of the island.
Mills was just as critical towards the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), which he blames for not doing enough to defend the image of the island, and the Jamaican Government, which he believes has dragged its feet in the anti-doping efforts.
Jamaica's anti-doping programme has been the topic of much debate and criticism, particularly following a damning report written by former Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) Executive Director Renée Anne Shirley, who, among other things, accused the local powers of not being serious enough about anti-doping.
This came on the back of six Jamaicans, including star athletes Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, testing positive for banned substances.
"The Government is lagging behind; whether it is a financial reason or whatever, but they need to do a lot more. They could even set up what I would call a helpline where an athlete can call in and ask about a medication and receive advice if there is any danger or get it tested," Mills advised. "It doesn't have to be a JADCO thing; this can come under the Ministry of Health, for instance."
"I also feel that the JAAA has not done a good job in managing the whole thing and defending Jamaica's image. Too often they have been silent and dormant, as if they are afraid to come out and defend Jamaica's image."
"They target Jamaica because of its success. There is no doubt about it ... ," Mills told The Gleaner in an exclusive interview. "The Jamaican anti-doping programme is, by comparison, fairly new. Most countries performing at our level have been well advanced in their anti-doping programmes in terms of years of experience and expertise."
JADCO was formally established in 2008 after the passage of the Anti-Doping in Sport Act.
"I believe that the criticism is somewhat harsh in that based on the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) came here and did an evaluation of the programme and gave it a thumbs up, and that was as early as last year, I am a bit surprised that Jamaica, a couple months later, is being seen as a country that is not developing or enforcing a good anti-doping programme," Mills added.
"Why? Nobody wants to see Jamaica continue its dominance of sprinting at the world level. And the international media - again, one has to question the balance of their reporting. I have read some terrible articles written about Jamaica. I have read some terrible articles trying to insinuate that Usain Bolt's success is false because of all of this," added Mills, who compared Jamaica's anti-doing record against that of other countries.
"We have had some adverse analytical findings for stimulants and those other things, but there are so many cases of steroid use in other countries in the past couple of months, yet there is no sensationalising around those countries or athletes. Yet everyone is banging on the Jamaicans because of our success, and the truth of the matter is that our success has come through hard work, excellent coaches, and making the best use of our facilities that are below world-class standards," Mills declared.
More than 16 Jamaicans have tested positive for banned substances since 2008.