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Jamaica urged to get more serious with drug testing

Renee Anne Shirley is not impressed with her country’s doping controls.

Renee Anne Shirley is not impressed with her country’s doping controls.

KINGSTON – A former anti-doping official has accused Jamaica of turning a blind eye to discovering potential drugs cheats.

Renee Anne Shirley, who left her position as executive director of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) this year, has claimed that Jamaica only commissioned one out-of-competition drugs test in the months leading up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Jamaica had five athletes test positive in the build-up to this month’s World Championships in Moscow, where the country won nine medals, six of them gold. Most notable among the positive tests was Asafa Powell, the former 100m world record holder. Shirley branded the positive tests as “the equivalent of a category-5 hurricane”.

Shirley, who joined Jadco shortly before London 2012, wrote in Sports Illustrated: “When I took over, in mid-July, Jadco did not have a large enough staff in place to carry out rigorous anti- doping programs. The Doping Control/Technical Services and the Education/Communications Units had only one junior staff member each, and the director positions were vacant.

“The current program while improved makes a mockery of Jamaica’s posturing and flames suspicion more than it douses it. Between the time the current board was appointed, in February 2012, and the start of the London Olympics late last July, out-of-date testing kits and limited staffing resources resulted in a total of one out-of-competition test.

Having urged the authorities to “get more serious” only to see no change, Shirley said she had no option but to leave in February.

“I could not get any member of the Jadco board or member of Jamaica’s Cabinet to take it seriously,” she added. “They believe that Jamaica does not have a problem.

“Just like a hurricane, this disaster is one that I hoped would not visit Jamaica, even as I feared that it would.”

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