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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Doping 'disaster': shadow hangs over Jamaican Olympic team

Doping 'disaster': shadow hangs over Jamaican Olympic team

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Usain Bolt celebrates his gold in the 100-metre final at the 2012 Olympics. Photo: Getty Images

Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, may be in doubt for the next Olympic Games unless his nation gets its act together on its anti-doping measures.

The World Anti-Doping Agency last night warned Jamaica it risked expulsion from major competitions if it failed to address failings highlighted by a former senior employee.

WADA director-general David Howman urged the island's government to investigate claims by the former executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission that its drugs-testing program was completely inadequate.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wins gold in the 100 metres at the 2012 Olympics in London. Photo: Steve Christo

Renee Anne Shirley accused Jamaica's politicians and administrators of ignoring her warnings that the positive tests returned by Asafa Powell and four other athletes were a "disaster" waiting to happen, saying: "They believe Jamaica does not have a problem."

Mr Howman warned that if the country refused to take its responsibilities seriously, WADA could deem JADCO non-compliant with the WADA code, which could have dire consequences for the country's elite athletes, including world record-breaking sprinter Usain Bolt.

"Our normal approach if we have issues falling into the category of either complaint or concern is to try to work with the particular signatory – in this case the [national anti-doping agency] – and remedy it," Mr Howman said. "If nothing happens, we can ask our board to declare any of the signatories non-compliant and that has implications as to whether teams from the country would be admitted into various events.

"We report the non-compliance to people who can then consider whether other sanctions ought to follow. That would be the International Olympic Committee and International Association of Athletics Federations and so on."

Ms Shirley went public with her concerns this week in US magazine Sports Illustrated.

Mr Howman said: "We were certainly concerned by the comments and would anticipate that the government and the agency itself would be appropriately responding.

"It's serious. And I think that if responsible people in Jamaica are looking at it then they will address it. I would be disappointed if they didn't. But, certainly, if there's a lack of response then it's something that we at WADA would want to take up with the Jamaican government."

Asafa Powell races at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting Athletissima in Switzerland in 2011. Photo: AFP

WADA was heavily involved in helping Jamaica establish JADCO around the 2008 Olympics and Mr Howman defended its efforts to make it a world-class testing program after women's sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce returned an adverse finding three years ago.

However, Ms Shirley revealed that JADCO had conducted just one out-of-competition test in the five months before London 2012, a fact of which Mr Howman admitted WADA had also been aware.

He said: "We knew that there was a spell in Jamaica where they didn't have a CEO and there was a spell when they were not conducting testing and we didn't know the reason for that. But that was certainly something that we became aware of.

"There was a gap where there was nothing because the previous CEO resigned to take up a political appointment or to seek election in the government. We were worried about that."

Mr Howman refused to reveal whether WADA had contacted JADCO or the Jamaican government on the back of Ms Shirley's article, describing such discussions as "confidential".

Ms Shirley quit JADCO in February over her concerns, which she claimed were justified by June's positive tests for Powell and others.

JADCO said this week that the person responsible for responding to media inquiries was on holiday and it was therefore unable to comment on Ms Shirley's accusations.

Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley did not respond to requests for comment.

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