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Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 20 April, 2014

Jamaica doping scandal ‘the tip of the iceberg’, says drug tester

A senior official in the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission believes it is widespread in sport.

Asafa Powell failed a drugs test in the summer.
Asafa Powell failed a drugs test in the summer.
Image: Anja Niedringhaus/AP/Press Association Images

FAILED DRUG TESTS by high-profile Jamaican athletes could represent “the tip of the iceberg”, according to a leading anti-doping official from the country.

Former men’s world record-holder Asafa Powell and women’s Olympic relay gold-medallist Sherone Simpson are among the sprinters who have failed tests in recent months.

Dr Paul Wright, a senior official with the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), says he fears that a recent visit to Jamaica by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will reveal that doping practices have become widespread.

“The results are not good. This year alone the results really point the finger,” he told the BBC.

“Remember, all of these results except one were caught by JADCO. The problem is these people were tested positive in competition.

What that means is months before, you know the date of the test and the approximate time of the test. This could be the tip of the iceberg to have so many positives coming in competition.”

Jamaica’s testing procedures are due to be discussed at a WADA executive board meeting in Johannesburg later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the outgoing president of WADA, John Fahey, has called for his organisation to be granted greater powers of investigation.

He cited recent events in Jamaica and Kenya, whose government has belatedly announced an investigation into the suspensions of 17 Kenyan athletes for doping violations since January 2012.

“We do need a greater power to undertake an investigation when we see there are potential difficulties in both Jamaica and Kenya,” Fahey told BBC Radio 4 from Johannesburg.

“There is no power whatsoever for WADA under our code to comply anyone to do certain things and there are sanctions that can ultimately be imposed by those who control sport; that is not WADA.

“With the code review there is a likelihood by the end of this week for there to be a much better emphasis on investigation and a capacity, where investigations are not conducted by countries like Kenya, for WADA to instigate the investigation themselves.”

On Jamaica, Fahey said WADA was concerned “that they had lost their way”.

“We have been aware of difficulties in Jamaica for some time,” he added. “We have gone to them, we’ve assisted them, we have given them some support. We have indicated they need to make some improvements.”

- © AFP, 2013

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