Since the landing on the sporting earth of the Übermensch, aka Usain Bolt, Jamaica has
been at the centre of doping-related suspicions. Recently, it has been fueling
those suspicions with its home-made scandal around the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission
(JADCO). The former executive of JADCO, Renee Anne Shirley, heavily criticized
its functioning in August 2013, and Jamaica has been since then in the eye of
the doping cyclone.
In light of the reluctance of Jamaica to remedy
the failures of JADCO, the World Ani-Doping Agency (WADA) ordered a formal
review of the anti-doping practices on the Island. In case of a negative
report, WADA would have declared Jamaica non-compliant, this would in turn
trigger sanctions by Sport Governing Bodies, in extreme cases even a full ban
from major international events (Olympic Games or World Cups). In order to
avoid such a dire fate the sporting Minister of Jamaica and the head of WADA
met on November 2013 and a reform plan for the Jamaican anti-doping
organisations was agreed.
The minister accepted to undertake a legislative review of anti-doping law in
Jamaica and to evaluate JADCO’s governance and management structure.
Furthermore, the Jamaican government allocated new funds to the fight against
doping. In short, JADCO is being restructured, this is very much a work
in progress, but WADA is strongly
backing the reforms so far.
Furthermore, in 2013, Jamaican track and field athletes
have been hit by a strange string
of positive doping cases: Asafa
Robinson, and (in 2012) Dominique
Blake. All those cases lead to sporting bans of various lengths by Jamaica
Athletics Administrative Association’s
(JAAA) Disciplinary Panel. However, even the Jamaican doping justice is
scrambling, the probity of some judges have been doubted and calls to reverse
the bans in the cases of Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson have
been heard. Anyhow, the cases will probably end up in front of CAS.
Before CAS, the weaknesses of the Jamaican anti-doping
system became overt in the Campbell-Brown case.
Indeed, in that case, the JADCO acknowledged
that it had been, as a matter of policy choice, constantly ignoring the WADA International
Standards for Testing. Thus, CAS was prompt to assert that “systematic and knowing failure, for
which no reasonable explanation has been advanced, is deplorable and gives rise
to the most serious concerns about the overall integrity of the JAAA’s
anti-doping processes, as exemplified in this case by the flaws in JADCO’s
sample collection and its documentation” (§182). Consequently, the ban on Veronique
Campbell-Brown was lifted. Additionally, in a recent decision
(2 May 2014) in the Dominique Blake case, CAS reduced the 6-year ban to 4,5
years because, among other reasons, “she was provided with barely any
anti-doping education” and “she has only had one previous experience with
doping control (when she was 19 years-old)”.
What kind of lessons does the fiasco of the
anti-doping system in Jamaica holds for the whole World Anti-Doping edifice?
Well, first, that the local level matters a lot. Indeed, if local authorities
are inefficient and/or unwilling to address the various dimensions (education, compliance,
enforcement) of the anti-doping fight, the WADA and its rules lose relevance. This
might engender loopholes in the global anti-doping regime, thus creating
discrepancies between athletes. Indeed, some might be very strictly monitored
due to their residence being in a complying country, while others will
systematically escape any control or punishment due to insufficient procedural
standards. Hence, for the WADA Regime to be successful in reining in doping and
ensuring a level playing field for athletes, WADA must urgently warrant that
enforcement asymmetries are avoided.