HOW does a country like Jamaica keep abreast of anti-doping best practices?
Countries such as Brazil and Russia, home of the recently held IAAF World Championships, are under scrutiny for non-compliance with testing standards.
Russian discus thrower Darya Vitalyevna Pishchalnikova was sanctioned in 2008 for doping irregularities. Just before the Olympic Games in London she had her sample tested at the World Anti-Doping Agency- (WADA-) accredited Russian lab where they failed to detect any drugs.
Pishchalnikova competed in London and won a silver medal. The sample was retested in Germany a few weeks after the Olympics and found to have the anabolic steroid oxandrolone. She is now banned for 12 years.
In the last year, 44 Russian athletes tested positive for a variety of drugs. Russian athletes are crying foul because they say the lab in Moscow is messing up their samples. In 2012, WADA made an inspection visit to the lab.
On the other side of the globe in Brazil, there are also serious problems with the testing of samples. On August 8, 2013, operations at the WADA-accredited lab in Rio de Janeiro was suspended for non-compliance with the International Standards for Laboratories .
Turkey, which is bidding for the 2020 Olympics franchise, recently suspended more than 30 athletes for doping violations, prompting International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) deputy president and former pole vault great Sergei Bubka to say that doping is a serious threat for the entire world of sport in the 21st century.
Turkey conducted 100 out-of-competition tests on 400 athletes in 2012, yet Mr Bubka and the president of the IAAF Lamine Diack are backing Turkey to host the 2020 Olympics.
Jamaica compares favourably by doing 68 out-of-competition tests on 50 athletes in 2012. Whereabout rules are farce in most countries. Whereabout rules are established in only 34 of the 205 countries which are members of the International Olympic Committee.
The Norwegian Protection Agency has overruled the use of whereabout in team sports. Therefore, players do not need to be available for doping control during their spare time, only during training and competition.
Potent performance-enhancing drugs can be bought legally on the Internet in Britain. Early this year, an undercover agent in London discovered that he was able to buy online a research chemical that confers the benefits of training but which was discontinued because of the devastating side effects associated with multiple organ cancers.
Intelligence is that this fat-burning drug has reappeared in Europe and is being abused by athletes. Recently, a Russian athlete was sanctioned for using this G15 drug.
Kenya has not gone unblemished. It has been reported that doctors are supplying athletes with performance-enhancing drugs for a part of their prize money.
An international study titled 'The Lack of Effectiveness of Testing Programmes' that looks at every level of the anti-doping regime was commissioned by WADA. The report was damning. Sporting bodies worldwide were criticised. WADA itself came under criticism for not having the skill or tools to clean up sports.
The International Olympic Committee and WADA should provide funding for countries that are unable, because of resources, to fully comply with testing, research and education that will keep them abreast of new developments in anti-doping practices.
An underlying principle of any fair legal system is that those subject to the laws must be aware of the law. It is simply impossible to expect that athletes are able to control every step of the food and pharmaceutical processing chain.
— Dr Rachael irving is a senior research fellow at the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, Mona and a WADA researcher.