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Doping Paradize – How Jamaica became the Wild West of Doping

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 Powell, Sherone Simpson, Veronique Campbell-Brown, Allison Randall,  Damar 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.

Comments (7) -

  • hugh

    5/7/2014 8:44:48 PM |

    this describes the true state of affairs, within the jaaa, any truly logical individual understands that bans have and should be very stringent ,,,for the sake of the clean athlete , regardless of colour or creed religion etc...

  • Dowie Ty

    5/8/2014 1:49:24 AM |

    And how did Jamaica become the wild west of doping? I have not seen the answer in your poorly written blog. One Jamaican athlete who reside and train in the USA tested positive for a STEROID all the others tested positive for STIMULANTs which can be found in energy drinks on the market( in Asafa's and Sherones case it was not listed as an the ingredient) secondly these athletes compete on the Diamond League Circuit and are tested at every event and was only caught in Jamaica; this means that Jamaica does a better Job than our international partners.......thirdly This article was written to draw attention from the Tyson Gay Fiasco of a punishment for STEROID use..... Guess what....You and your crew can't shake us....we're bigger than you and your negativity; so please go shove it....

    • Antoine Duval

      5/8/2014 8:09:35 AM |

      Dear Dowie and Junior,

      There seem to be a little misunderstanding here. This article is not claiming that all Jamaican athlete are doped, it is meant to show that when the national anti-doping institutions fail, as arguably JADCO does, asymmetries in the anti-doping fight build up. Stimulants as you say can be found in energy drinks, but in many countries despite that fact athletes to get long bans, because that is the way the World Anti-Doping Code wants it. Therefore this article is more a wake-up call for WADA than anything else, there need to be support and monitoring of JADCO to ensure equality and due process rights for athletes. This is necessary to warrant the credibility of Jamaican athletes.

  • kevin

    5/8/2014 5:40:04 AM |

    i don't know why this moron is tying to paint a doping haven an our athletes he doesn't know $hit about us we eat sleep and breathe track and field look at our grass roots programs they start from kindergarten.we will be ruling for a very long time so stop hating and get use to it.we have two of the best coaches ever we don't do steroids,  the anti doping banned list is like a mine field you can eat a burger and something in it cause you to test positive for a stimulant. take for example shelly took a pain killer after a toothe extraction and ended up testing positive for a banned substance.don't try to shift the attention get lost.

    • Antoine Duval

      5/8/2014 8:18:18 AM |

      Dear Kevin,

      Indeed, one can criticize the World Anti-Doping Code and its functioning, and guess what, I did it! (One post earlier about cocaine:

      This post is not designed against Jamaican athletes, however the desperate stage of JADCO (acknowledged by JADCO and CAS) is a  source of concern for those athletes as it reinforces suspicions. Thus, what I call for in the article, probably it was not clear enough, is that WADA enhances its support and monitoring of JADCO, in order to ensure that the transnational standards of the anti-doping fight are enforced in a similar fashion as elsewhere.

  • Kirkland Davis

    5/9/2014 2:55:59 AM |

    Sensationalism! Insinuating that the sporting landscape in Jamaica is the "wild west" is disingenuous. The implication is that there is no concern for the rule of law (the WADA code) nor is there enforcement of the law. JADCO is an underfunded organization in a poor country which just happens to have the world's best sprinters at this time, notwithstanding the funding constraints and procedural mistakes every single positive test mentioned in the article was as a result of testing administered by the same beleaguered JADCO. How is Jamaica a doping paradise when some of our top athletes have returned positives? This is not a country where a doping positive is a small matter, athletes are shamed and looked upon as having brought disgrace to our country if they are guilty of a doping offence. If Jamaica was indeed a "doping paradise" or "the wild west of doping" any athlete choosing to use performance enhancing drugs or an athlete who inadvertently ingests a banned substance would be allowed to do so with impunity, instead they are suspended, tried and banned by Jamaicans in Jamaica.
    Your implication that there is a culture of doping in Jamaica has not been supported by facts and your sensational headline is meant to draw attention and views. It can be speculated and this writer believes your motivations stem from jealousy and the disbelief that a small poor island can dominate the world in sprinting and not any honest attempt to explore the actual situation in Jamaica. I read this as another salvo in the bid to discredit the performances of all Jamaica's athletes, but our assembly line continues.

  • Tim Kerr

    5/9/2014 4:05:27 PM |

    We all know when things are too good to be true , they are not true, just saying. All secrets find a way out and they will . Hopefully some athletes will be clean and win on talent alone.

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