Simpson lawyer puts Wright, JADCO under scrutiny
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Kwame Gordon, the attorney representing Olympian Sherone Simpson in her anti-doping hearing, yesterday removed the gloves and went hard at the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) for not doing enough to protect Jamaica's athletes.
He also tackled doping control officer Dr Paul Wright, questioning his credentials as someone who knows about supplements and how they react in the human body.
Gordon suggested that JADCO, since its inception in 2008, has not staged any anti-doping seminars in Kingston and St Andrew, where most of Jamaica's elite athletes train, and that the Commission, unlike many of its Caribbean counterparts, does not have a website with information that would assist athletes in making better decisions about supplements.
He questioned Dr Wright about whether he was qualified to speak about supplements, citing that the veteran doctor had failed his medical exams in Jamaica on three occasions, before he finally managed to complete his studies in the United Kingdom in 1976.
Dr Wright also studied sports medicine in East Germany, and completed those studies in 1981.
Gordon and Danielle Chai represent Simpson and her former MVP clubmate, Asafa Powell. Both athletes tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine during the National Championships last June as Jamaica was selecting its team for the 14th IAAF World Athletic Championships in Moscow.
OUT OF COMPETITION
The two have not competed since they were advised of their adverse analytical findings in mid-July last year.
The day began with JADCO attorney Lackston Robinson questioning Dr Wright about anti-doping seminars that were conducted across the island since the early days of JADCO's existence in 2008.
Dr Wright told the panel of Lennox Gayle, Peter Prendergast and Japheth Ford that he had conducted seminars across the island, the last of which he staged on September 29, 2012.
He testified that JADCO enlists the help of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in advising people about the dates and times of the seminars and in advertising the said seminars.
Dr Wright gave a brief PowerPoint demonstration, showing the panel what the seminars were about. In it he explained what JADCO is and what its mandate is. The presentation also covered information that said the supplement industry was not properly regulated, wherein manufacturers were not required to list all ingredients on labels and that supplements did not fall under the same regulations as food and medicines.
Most importantly, taking a poorly labelled supplement is not an adequate defence in a doping hearing.
"If you follow a dietary plan, you don't need to take supplements," Dr Wright said.
However, under cross-examination from Gordon, Dr Wright said he had no research available to say that his claims about a proper dietary plan make supplements unnecessary.
Gordon went further. He asked Dr Wright if he had training that would give him authority to speak about how supplements worked inside the human body.
Dr Wright, who has worked in anti-doping for 35 years, responded that he had a diploma in sports medicine that included schooling on supplements.
Gordon later changed the line of questioning and honed in on JADCO. In response to Gordon's questions, Dr Wright said he had not done an anti-doping seminar for the anti-doping agency in Kingston and St Andrew because he was not available at the times the Commission had scheduled those seminars.
He did say, however, that he had conducted seminars on behalf of the Jamaica Olympic Association.
Suggesting that JADCO had not done an anti-doping seminar in Kingston and St Andrew since its inception in 2008, Gordon asked: "Wouldn't it have been prudent to do one in Kingston and St Andrew where most of the athletes train?"
Dr Wright said he believed seminars were held in Kingston and St Andrew.
With regards to whether Jamaica's athletes are provided with information about anti-doping, Dr Wright revealed that all athletes who are tested out-of-competition are provided with pamphlets that contained the list of banned substances, but said he could not recall if Simpson ever got one from him.
Gordon then broached the subject of the absence of a JADCO website that he argued would have been very useful to Jamaican athletes seeking important anti-doping information. He asked Dr Wright if such a website would have been useful to Jamaica's athletes.
"Tremendously!" Dr Wright answered.
Citing Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Grenada as countries that all have effective websites that are engaging and full of information, and the fact that Jamaica did not have one, Gordon asked Dr Wright if such a situation was unacceptable.
"The answer to that question got me into trouble previously," Dr Wright responded and evoked laughter from several quarters of the conference room.
When pressed, he said: "Is there a Fifth Amendment in this country?"
More laughter ensued.
Closing submissions are expected to be made on February 25.