Editorial

JADCO must do more

Saturday, April 19, 2014    

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MR Carey Brown and his new board at the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) were presented with a grand opportunity, we believe, to begin rebuilding the trust deficit with the nation's athletes, following disclosure by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) of the agency's deplorably slack urine sample collection systems.

Sadly, they blew it.

Readers will recall that the decorated Mrs Veronica Campbell Brown had the tenacity, and the wherewithal, to successfully challenge the process which prescribed a two-year ban after she was said to have tested positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) at the Jamaica International Invitational meet last May.

In explaining how their appeal had been won, Mrs Campbell Brown's legal team, including former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, explained a month ago that JADCO had botched the sample collection process. We recall Mr Patterson's exhortation that rules and processes must be followed by everyone, not only athletes, but invigilators also.

In a 58-page ruling released on Tuesday, which largely confirmed revelations by Mrs Campbell Brown's lawyers, the Switzerland-based CAS blasted JADCO and questioned the overall integrity of Jamaica's anti-doping processes.

We note JADCO's concession that some procedures carried out while collecting samples for testing last year were not consistent with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) International Standards; that there has since been an overhaul of the doping operations, including the resignation of the then entire JADCO board and the appointment of a new executive director; that doping control officers are being recruited and trained to boost the agency's personnel, as well as new initiatives to be undertaken in an effort to refine and upgrade its operational procedures to remove any weaknesses in the system.

All good and well, but what about an apology to Mrs Campbell Brown for the immeasurable hurt imposed on her by JADCO's incompetence? Also, there was no acknowledgement of the cases involving less celebrated athletes, Miss Allison Randall and Mr Travis Smikle, who were also said to have tested positive for HCT.

Indeed, Miss Randall, who has maintained her innocence, has been banned for two years, while Mr Smikle's case is still pending. Did these two athletes cheat? Or were they, like Mrs Campbell Brown, victims of the botched JADCO system?

CAS, in its report, concluded that Mrs Campbell Brown's positive test could have been as a result of "environmental contamination". The three-man arbitration panel relied heavily on testimony from Mr Peter Sever, a professor of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics and head of the department of clinical pharmacology at Imperial College in London.

Professor Sever found it strange that three out of 100 athletes tested at the National Stadium over a two-month period last year came back positive for HCT, and at least two (Mrs Campbell Brown and Mr Smikle) were partial sample cases.

He pointed to a significant disparity between the percentage positive HCT tests between the rest of the world, which was 0.05 per cent in 2012, and three per cent in Jamaica in 2013. That's a 60-time differential.

Professor Sever suggested that a common environmental cause could have been at fault.

Surely, JADCO needs to do an environmental impact assessment at the doping control centre at the National Stadium, and seriously review all recent cases of positive HCT, to determine if athletes were wrongly sanctioned. Nothing less will suffice.

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