Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Entire Jamaican anti-doping board resigns
By Peter Gambaccini
Less than a month after World Anti-Doping Agency officials visited Jamaica to conduct what the nation's minister for sport called an "extraordinary audit", the entire board of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission and its chairman, Dr. Herb Elliot, have resigned.
The board members will step down on Dec. 31.
Former JADCO executive director Renee Anne Shirley revealed in a Sports Illustrated article that the organization conducted only one out-of-competition drug test in the five months leading up to the 2012 Olympics, that it had never conducted a blood test on an athlete, and that it was perpetually understaffed.
WADA President John Fahey had previously charged that JADCO officials were engaged in "farcical" attempts to delay his organization's inquiry for a year, and hinted that such behavior could result in sanctions that might have included Jamaica's expulsion from the Olympics Games. It was soon determined that a timetable for WADA's inspection visit to Jamaica was indeed in place, a fact that undercut Fahey's claims.
Six Jamaican track and field athletes have been banned for positive drug tests in 2013, including three-time Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown, former world 100-meter record holder Asafa Powell and relay gold medalist Sherone Simpson.
Campbell-Brown was found to have used a diuretic that Jamaican athletic officials determined was not for performance enhancement. Powell and Simpson tested positive for oxilofrine, a stimulant found in certain dietary supplements.
Elliott's alleged academic credentials -- a master's degree in chemistry from Columbia University and a medical degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium -- had been questioned in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Research did not verify that he had attended those universities, and though Elliott disputed the claims he said he was resigning to protect JADCO's reputation.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprint superstars who are the 2013 IAAF Athletes of the Year, have aired complaints about the perception of how clean Jamaica's track programs may or may not be.
According to the Telegraph, Fraser-Pryce threatened to lead an athletes' strike of the sport's major championships unless Jamaican officials were more active and aggressive in countering what she called "untrue" allegations of doping by the country's athletes. She claimed to be making progress in setting up a union to give athletes a greater voice in track and field matters in Jamaica.
Bolt, who is the highest-paid track and field athlete in the world and a steady presence in a host of advertising campaigns, said he'd lost one lucrative sponsorship because the would-be sponsor was led to believe (apparently by Fahey's comments) Bolt would not be eligible for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
"That information is not correct," stated Bolt. "There are a lot of things that are going on with this drugs thing that I really feel they need to clarify because, for me, it's causing problems for me when it comes to making money from my sport.
"We really need to get this out of the way and move past this, get the rules down, get everything straight."