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125 drug tests before Olympics - JAAA boss counters WADA claim - Lists high frequency of testing prior to London 2012 Games

Published:Thursday | November 28, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Dr Warren Blake

Raymond Graham, Gleaner Writer

President of the Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA) Dr Warren Blake has come out in defence of the nation's top athletes, following recent threats made by the World Anti-Doping Agency against the background that not enough was being done by the island's track and field officials to deal with drug use in the sport.

"Our athletes are the most tested in the world, as prior to the London Olympic Games, some 125 drug testing was done on our elite athletes by the IAAF ... while WADA was not doing enough, the IAAF was extensively testing our athletes and our athletes are tested more than any other athletes in the world," said Dr. Blake.

"When you look at the performances of our athletes since this extensive drug testing by the IAAF it is the best medal haul we have had in major competition in our history."

Dr Blake made the comments while delivering his presidential report at the JAAA's annual general meeting, at Medallion Hall in Kingston, on Tuesday night.

His defence is similar to that mounted by Lamine Diack, president of the sport's world governing body - the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) - who noted the high number of drug testing done on the nation's athletes in the face of criticisms by WADA.

WADA's criticisms were sparked by a report published by former JADCO executive director, Renee Anne Shirley, which spoke to discrepancies in the island's out-of-competition testing of its athletes.

Adverse analytical findings

Additionally, several Jamaican high-profile athletes, including Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, had returned adverse analytical findings.

But the JAAA had been under pressure for being too silent on the matter and only recently, World female Athlete of the Year, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, threatened to stop competing for the country, claiming that its athletes were not being defended by the JAAA.

Dr Blake pointed out that positive tests could have an adverse effect on the nation's track programme and as such, they will have to improve JADCO's capabilities.

"Positive dope tests have the potential to derail our entire programme. With this in mind, we have to ensure that JADCO's shortcomings will have to be rectified and their education and testing regime needs to continue as the Government has promised," Dr Blake pointed out.

"We also have to ensure that we have an education programme in place for our athletes, coaches and other support personnel. Plans are already in place for regular seminars," said Blake.

He also noted several of the positive achievements under his leadership since taking over as top man of the JAAA.

"In the first year of this administration, track and field has continued on its growth path. Both our junior and senior athletes have done our country proud.," he said.

"For the first time, we have topped the world at a global championships and also for the first time, we have dominated all the sprinting events at the World Athletic Championships, winning all the gold medals in the six sprinting events (WC) and also winning eight medals out of the possible 14 awarded in the sprinting events (WYC)," continued Blake.

Blake spoke about increased funds contributed directly to athletes' welfare and support, organisation of medical and anti-doping committees, Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Pretoria, and the University of Technology and the University of West Indies, bilateral sports cooperation between the Government of Jamaica and the Government of South Africa, which is on the verge of being signed, the progress of setting up of a sports science laboratory with the opening tentatively set for mid-April 2014, a reorganised accreditation system, significant progress in setting up and insurance system for athletes, and significant input into the National Sports Policy, which was approved in March.