Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Arising from a two-day trip to the island to audit the drug-testing capabilities of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has committed to helping the local entity overcome some of the challenges it currently faces.
The three-member team from WADA, which departed the island yesterday, arrived on Monday to conduct what it described as an extraordinary audit of JADCO, following an invitation from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
The visit had taken on greater significance after a damaging exposé written by former JADCO Executive Director Renée Anne Shirley and published by Sports Illustrated in mid-August.
The WADA team met with JADCO commissioners and staff as well as with Natalie Neita-Headley, minister without portfolio with responsibility for sport, who described the meetings as 'constructive'.
"WADA has assured the Office of the Prime Minister that it will collaborate with JADCO in strengthening their programmes and provide support to the development of JADCO's new website, which is already on the way," Neita-Headley said during a press briefing at JADCO's offices in St Andrew yesterday.
FILLING ALL POSITIONS
The local drug-testing agency is moving apace to fill critical positions that had become vacant in recent months and which had rendered it inefficient.
"A new executive director assumed duties a week ago, and already the recruitment for five of the nine vacancies at JADCO is nearing completion," the minister disclosed. "We expect to fill all positions over the next two months. We have increased JADCO's budget by 14 per cent (for the current financial year) and recommendations have been made for additional funding to support its testing programme and the development of the new website."
Added Neita-Headley: "Our focus, going forward, is on strengthening and building capacity in collaboration with our partners. (And) our training and public-education programme and testing programme stand to benefit from support from CHASE Fund, the IAAF, and WADA."