Jamaica’s anti-doping regime has once again come under the spotlight of the international media after one of the country’s most senior drug tester Dr Paul Wright was quoted as saying the country’s recent rash of failed tests could be the “tip of an iceberg”.
Dr Wright told the BBC that the island’s anti-doping regime had been woefully short of the international standards required.
His comments come a week after the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) visited Jamaica to investigate claims that the country’s athletes were not being tested rigorously enough.
Former Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) executive director Renee Anne Shirley sparked the crisis when she said the agency conducted just one out-of-competition test in the six months leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Her criticisms, made in an article in Sports Illustrated, followed a series of adverse findings involving Jamaican track and field athletes.
Wada officials are due to discuss their visit to Jamaica at an executive board meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday and could make a series of recommendations to improve the country’s anti-doping policies.
But Dr Wright, a senior doping control officer with Jadco who has 30 years of experience of drug testing in sport, is concerned Wada’s intervention will not lead to the sweeping changes required to give the world confidence in Jamaican sport.
He also said the sudden surge of athletes failing tests at the country’s national trials in June had left him fearing the worst.
“The results are not good,” 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. That means, months before, you know the date of the test and the approximate time of the test.
“So, if you fail an in-competition test, you haven’t only failed a drugs test, you have failed an IQ test.
“This could be the tip of the iceberg to have so many positives coming in competition.
“What is going to convince me is if there is an out-of-competition test that’s unannounced, that includes blood testing and which tests for EPO. Then we can hold up our heads high and say we know there’s nothing.”
But the head of the Jamaican Olympic Association, Mike Fennell, dismissed Dr Wright’s concerns, saying he was “being dramatic”.
“I think that’s massively overstating it,” Fennell said. “There’s no evidence to suggest that it’s the tip of the iceberg.”
Although Dr Wright met with Wada officials during their visit, he was critical, saying they did not spend enough time on the ground in Jamaica.
“I have a personal problem in what you can do in 12 hours,” he said. “They really came late Monday evening and left first flight Wednesday morning. So they were only really here on Tuesday. And four hours of that was at a dinner function with the Prime Minister.
“It’s not enough. Remember, it was explained as an extraordinary audit. I would have loved them to have been here for a week, to have got answers to every question, to be able to question people who knew what was happening.
“Their intervention has led to the promise of change. If the promises are kept, then we will get there.”