The alleged failure of Jamaica’s anti-doping agency to adequately screen its athletes in the run-up to the London Olympics, is to be the subject of an “extraordinary audit” by the World Anti-Doping Authority as it is claimed that the country’s testing system failed to operate for “five or six months” at the start of 2012.
Usain Bolt’s historic sprint double led Jamaica’s stunning dominance of men’s and women’s sprinting at London 2012 – they won eight of the 12 individual medals – but the apparent inactivity of the body that is supposed to oversee doping control on the Caribbean island, is another damaging blow to the sport’s credibility.
Since the Games, five Jamaicans have returned positive tests for banned substances, including Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
The Wada investigation comes in the wake of allegations by Renee Anne Shirley, the former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, earlier this year that Jadco’s out-of-competition testing between January and July 2012 amounted to just 10 occasions in February and one in April.
Wada have confirmed there was a “significant gap of no testing” in Jamaica during the months preceding the Games. It does not mean leading Jamaican athletes were not tested before and during London 2012. Athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, tested Bolt 12 times last year, while the UK anti-doping agency also tested Jamaican athletes during their pre-Games training camp in Birmingham. The first five in each Olympic final are routinely tested – Bolt, who also starred in the 100m relay, would have been tested three times in London alone. But out-of-competition tests remain the most likely means of catching out dopers and Jadco’s seemingly abject failure to carry them out is damning. They are far from the only nation to face questions in this area but are comfortably the most high profile.
“There was a period of – and forgive me if I don’t have the number of months right – but maybe five to six months during the beginning part of 2012 where there was no effective operation,” said David Howman, Wada’s director general. “No testing. There might have been one or two, but there was no testing. So we were worried about it, obviously.”
Wada carries out audits on all national and regional bodies, but Howman described the one planned for Jamaica as “an extraordinary visit” and “a high priority... they’re on our radar.”
It is unclear when the visit will take place as Herbert Elliott, Jadco’s chairman, has said it cannot host the auditors until next year. “It doesn’t over-impress us,” said Howman to the Associated Press agency. “If there’s going to be that sort of delay, you need to have a better reason.”
The audit will judge whether Jadco remains compliant with the Wada code – if it does not the ultimate sanction, one that is a long way distant, would be the International Olympic Committee barring Jamaica’s participation in the Olympic Games – as well as the agency’s overall testing regime and whether it is sufficiently funded.
“The last time they were here they claimed everything was OK,” said Elliott. “So I don’t see how they’re going to say anything is different this time.”
Jadco agrees with the figures released by Shirley, who stepped down as executive director in February, that they carried out 108 out of competition tests in 2012 and 179 in all but has refused to give a month-by-month breakdown. Shirley detailed 96 in competition tests in May and June at the national trials and an invitational event as the only tests carried out before the Olympics, apart from those handful in February and April. Shirley also raised concerns over the quality of testing kits available as well as the limitations of what she regarded as a inadequate budget. Elliott has called Shirley a “Judas” and a “bit demented.”