JADCO to introduce dope testing at ‘Champs’ next year
BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) says that it expects everything to be in place to start testing junior athletes competing at the annual Boys' and Girls' Athletic Championship at the National Stadium by the 2015 renewal.
According to JADCO's executive director, Carey Brown, the commission is currently focusing on educating the athletes and their coaches, through workshops and the dissemination of information via booklets and brochures, as well as a new website it plans to have running later this year.
"We want to have that fully in place for next year for testing at the Boys' and Girls' Championships," Brown told Wednesday's meeting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), which was probing the operations of the Office of the Prime Minister and its agencies over the first eight months of the current financial year.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Onika Miller, reminded the meeting that JADCO will also be hosting workshops for the junior athletes and their support team this year, providing them with handbooks, brochures and other materials, as part of the plan to develop policies and guidelines for conducting testing on them.
"JADCO is advancing the draft for policies and guidelines for conducting the testing of our junior athletes, because we don't want to rush the tests without ensuring that the fraternity has a better understanding of what the process will be. So, the junior workshops are part of that exercise," she said.
JADCO has also been collaborating with the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) on a series of anti-doping workshops for senior athletes and athlete support personnel across the island, which started on February 12 at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
Under intense questioning from opposition spokesman on finance and planning, Audley Shaw, Brown told the PAAC that JADCO has been in constant dialogue with the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) on the controversial issues which took on global significance last year.
"In December, I went up there as well, for orientation. I am in contact with the key persons there, and there is also supposed to be a follow-up visit, with them coming back here," Brown said.
In response to Shaw's question on whether JADCO has been following WADA's recommendations, following its previous visits, Brown said JADCO has been following those recommendations, and was also looking at a possible partnership with another anti-doping agency, to build the commission's capacity to meet the requirements.
"Have they been monitoring to satisfy themselves that you are following up those recommendations?" Shaw asked.
"Yes, they have been monitoring," Brown responded. "But, as I said, there is a follow-up visit and, of course, they will be able to see where we are with our progress, and to tell us where in their minds, maybe, we need to improve ourselves, because this is a continuous programme."
Brown insisted that JADCO has adequate resources, and has been fulfilling its testing responsibilities with its 2013/14 budget.
"There is no prescribed number of tests, because we are the ones who develop our test-distribution plan. There is no prescribed number of tests year by year from WADA," he said.
"I have to confess, I don't envy your job," Shaw commented. "There is no prescribed number of tests, so how do you follow the rules? How can you be sure that WADA is totally satisfied with what you are doing?"
Miller responded that JADCO operates within the confines of the Anti-Doping in Sports Act. Jamaica is a signatory to the Copenhagen Declaration of Anti-Doping in Sport and JADCO also operates within the confines of the World Anti-Doping Code, which Jamaica adopted in 2003.
"And WADA is the oversight entity," she explained." But, the functions of WADA do not extend to being prescriptive for each national anti-doping organisation. WADA seeks to provide and to share best practices and encourages anti-doping entities to improve their systems, with a view to fulfilling the mandate for each of these anti-doping agencies, which is to facilitate the control and prevention of doping in sport.
"So while WADA is not going to prescribe exactly how many tests you should do in any specific sporting discipline, certainly, it encourages a variety of methods in respect of your doping plan," she added.
Miller said that JADCO had conducted 229 tests on Jamaican athletes in 13 sporting disciplines between 2013 and 2014, of which 137 were during competition and 92 were out of competition.
"So, you see there is not a significant gap between the numbers. Yes, we have done more testing in competitions, but it is not a significant falloff in the number of tests we have done out of competition" she explained.
She admitted that a comment made by WADA officials during a visit to Jamaica last year led to much negative publicity about the operations of JADCO.
"I believe we have openly admitted that there were some deficiencies in the operations of JADCO, and there has been a significant effort to strengthen the operations of JADCO," she stated.
She said that in addition to the appointment of a new executive director, other positions are being filled and recruitments are under way. She also said that there is also an action plan with respect to strengthening the operations of JADCO, and the commissioners and the executive director have been leading that charge.
"We expect that with a follow-up visit from WADA, we will see a greater degree of satisfaction with how JADCO's operations are being executed," the permanent secretary said.