Though the results of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) extraordinary audit of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission's (JADCO) testing policies and operations will not be known for sometime, the Jamaican authorities have already begun strengthening areas of weakness in the system.
A day after the three-member WADA team completed their two-day review yesterday, and merely a few hours after they had left the island for Canada, Natalie Neita Headley, Minister without portfolio (sport), told the media that the two groups "engaged in constructive meetings" and had had "very fruitful discussions", and that WADA had committed to working in closer partnership with JADCO to make it world-class.
The WADA team comprised Rob Koehler, Director of Education and Programme Development; Rune Anderson, Director of Standards and Harmonisation, and Kerwin Clarke, Manager of Programme Development, and the audit was to have examined a number of areas, including the local agency's drug-testing programmes, its governance, staffing, education programme, as well as the spate of recent adverse analytical findings.
They arrived in the island on Monday afternoon and it is believed that the report from the audit will not be made public until after the World Anti-Doping Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, from November 12-15.
Neita Headley, who had JADCO chairman Dr Herb Elliott, as well as commissioners, Professors Winston Davidson and Rainford Wilks, Bishop Peter Morgan, and Sonia Mitchell, along with Onika Miller, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in attendance, also noted that WADA had assured the OPM that it would collaborate in strengthening JADCO's programmes and provide support for the establishment of the new website.
"There is no doubt that we have done some things well, but like with all other growing organisations, JADCO is only five years young and there are areas that we are seeking to improve," the minister admitted. "We have already embarked on a continuous improvement strategy," she added inside the offices of JADCO.
"Toward this end, I would like to focus our attention on four key elements, which must form part of the strategy going forward.
"As you are already aware, a new executive director assumed duties a week ago. Already the recruitment process for five of the nine identified vacancies in JADCO's establishment is near completion. We expect to fill all these positions within two months."
The new executive director is Carey Anthony Brown.
"On the matter of budgetary support, we have already increased this year's JADCO budget by 14 per cent over the previous year and recommendations have been made for additional funding to the commission to support its testing programme and the development of a new website," the minister continued.
"Our focus going forward is on strengthening and building capacity in collaboration with our partners. Our training and public education programmes stand to benefit from support from CHASE Fund, IAAF and WADA."
Meanwhile, the minister revealed that JADCO has conducted 286 tests as at the end of September this year, with 45 per cent of that number being out-of-competition tests, as opposed to a total of 179 tests done the previous year.
Neita Headley also noted that 300 tests were planned for this year, costing on average of US$300 per test, and excluding the costs for medical kits to conduct the tests, and fees for the medical personnel conducting the tests. For the next year the plan is to increase the number of tests to 400, and to commence the process of blood analysis, one of the concerns of former JADCO boss Renee Ann Shirley.