Blake points to doping fallout 2013
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, described 2013's doping scandal as the most challenging experience for his administration but is looking ahead to the new year, starting with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Federation Francaise d'Athletisme (FFA) later this week.
The JAAA's top brass struck the deal with their French counterparts during last year's IAAF World Championships in Athletics and will see both bodies sharing technical know-how in their respective areas of expertise, while the French authorities have also committed to donating used equipment to the JAAA, which will benefit the local school programme.
"We are looking at foreign federations to twin with and to see how we may benefit. The French Federation is coming here in the week and we will be signing a memorandum of understanding with them," Blake confirmed to The Sunday Gleaner.
The JAAA will also be opening up the shores to top French talent to train and work alongside local coaches, with French officials and coaches expected to take the opportunity to study the coaching methods applied here.
"We will also be benefiting from some of their technical expertise in some of the events that they are good at; we will be getting coaches from them. We will also be getting equipment because they change out equipment much quicker than we do, so they will be sending those to us," Blake added. "While they won't be used at the main events, the schools can benefit from those. Like hurdles, only a few schools have a proper set of hurdles."
The JAAA will also be looking to tie up bilateral agreements with the Cuban and Kenyan athletics bodies in the coming months.
Blake, who was a guest at yesterday's Pure Water/ Jamaica College Development Meet, described 2013 as a massively successful year, but noted the difficulties experienced with dealing with the positive tests of top Jamaicans such as Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson. The JAAA also came under pressure from the fallout of a report from former drug testing boss, Renée Anne Shirley, that pointed to several shortcomings at the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission.
"That aspect of it (doping) provided the biggest challenge for us as a federation in 2013 - how to manage positive dope tests," Blake said. "We took some negative comments, some felt that we didn't speak out early enough about the dope cases but it puts you in a difficult position because when you speak out it may give the impression that you condone drug taking in sports."
"When it took the turn and started to look like this is how we built our success in Jamaica, we had to get the figures and facts from the IAAF to show that Jamaica is the most tested country in the world," Blake added.