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Major capital needed for local lab - Neita Headley

Published:Friday | July 26, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Neita Headley


The establishment of an internationally accredited anti-doping laboratory in Jamaica will require substantial capital investment and support from other countries to ensure sustainability.

This was the word from Minister with responsibility for Sport, Natalie Neita Headley, as she addressed a Jamaica Information Service Think Tank on July 23.

She was responding to questions as to whether the Government is considering setting up a lab in Jamaica to provide drug testing of athletes and to assist in the testing of supplements that are being marketed to athletes.

Minister Neita Headley said that the establishment of an internationally-accredited laboratory with capabilities to test athletes for all the substances on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) banned list, as well as proactively test supplements taken by athletes, is an expensive venture that requires significant capital to set up and maintain.

"It is a matter as to whether or not Jamaica would be able to find that additional capital (and), to convince the rest of the world that we have all the requirements for them to send their tests to Jamaica," she stated.

"Unless significant support is given to Jamaica as a location, to satisfy the needs of several countries, the country cannot sustain a laboratory of that nature. However, it is not something we have written off as impossible," she explained.

The minister added that discussions have taken place with WADA and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce regarding the establishment of such a lab here.

Great deal of spending

President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, Dr Warren Blake, who also addressed the Think Tank, agreed that meeting the required international standards for the lab, would require a great deal of spending.

"The level of capital outlay is very deep. The laboratory should be able to test substances both known and unknown. In order to buy the right spectrometers and put the right tests in place to detect unknown substances, you must be able to spend," Dr Blake emphasised.

He also pointed out that sustainability of the laboratory at an international standard will also depend on support from other countries.

"Capital outlay can be put in place but because it is not being used, the laboratory cannot be sustained," Dr Blake said.