JADCO steps up drug fight with blood testing

By Howard Walker Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

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Following their clean bill of health from WADA, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) has introduced blood testing as it continues the fight against drugs in sports.


JADCO's executive director, Carey Brown, told the Jamaica Observer that the new dimension to the local programme in the fight against doping is a major achievement for his agency.


"JADCO is responsible for two main areas -- testing and education. In the area of testing, one of the major accomplishments is the introduction of blood testing to our doping control procedures," Brown revealed.


"Blood testing started in June 2015 in collaboration with a local phlebotomy company. We hosted training sessions for our sample collection personnel in November 2014 and we have managed to increase the number of trained and certified sample collection personnel. This process is ongoing as we continue to ensure that we have an efficient testing programme," he noted.


In the latest WADA report, it was stated that banned substances were found in 3,866 samples out of 283,304 tests carried out worldwide, but Jamaica was not implicated in those tests.


JADCO, which came under fire from WADA for its approach to drug testing in 2013, conducted 347 tests last year. The adverse analytical findings in this report are not subjected to athletics alone, but also cover Olympic and non-Olympic sports and must not be confused with adjudicated or sanctioned Anti-Doping Rule Violations.


A sample that tests positive for a banned substance does not necessarily mean an athlete has been doping. The body, for example, can produce some substances naturally.


"We have also increased the number of tests carried out and we continue to develop a testing programme that is compliant with international standards," said Brown.


"The figures in the finding indicate that JADCO is doing more testing. The test results show that our athletes are being tested more and we are protecting the clean athletes. The increased testing figure will also put persons who intend to cheat on notice that there is a higher probability of them getting caught," he added.


Brown said "smarter testing" will help in identifying the "right substance".


"One must also note that there can be non-analytical findings through investigations," Brown explained.


In the period from April to June, JADCO has conduceted 29 blood testings and 140 urine tests in and out of competition.


In addition to the qualification of blood collection officers, several doping control officers and chaperones also received training. This has brought the total number of doping control officers to 17 and chaperones to 50.


Meanwhile, JADCO continues its education with workshops directed at athletes and various stakeholders, including athletes and their support personnel, members of sporting federations and associations and professional groups.


"We have begun the 2015 series of islandwide Junior Athletes Anti-Doping Education Workshops which will run throughout the month of October on Wednesdays," said Brown .


"This is intended to add to the over 800 participants who received anti-doping education during the 2014 series of the workshops.


"In addition to information posted to our website and social media pages, we continue to educate our target audience through the monthly JADCO and You radio programmes and quarterly television programmes, as well as through our True Spirit newsletter which is published quarterly," he added.


The Commission will host the annual Senior Athletes Anti-Doping Education Workshop on November 21, 2015.


JADCO has formed a relationship with WADA-accredited Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) laboratory based in Canada for use of its Athlete Passport Management Unit for the steroids module.


This, JADCO said, will make it easier to monitor biological parameters of each athlete's urine samples and use that to determine whether or not there are changes in competition and out of competition or throughout the year.


This form of monitoring, it was explained, is necessary because "it is not only if you end up with a positive test that you can be cited for an anti-doping rule violation", but if one's biological parameters are out of the norm, this is also an indication that one may be using prohibited substances or methods.




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