WADA president heaps praise on Jamaica's efforts to improve its drug-testing program

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The president of the World Anti-Doping Agency said Tuesday he is "hugely impressed" by Jamaica's efforts to establish an effective drug-testing program on the Caribbean island that is home to many of the most successful sprinters in athletics.

Craig Reedie praised Jamaica for revamping its anti-doping systems following revelations of a complete breakdown of out-of-competition testing from January 2012 to the July opening of the London Olympics, where its athletes won 12 medals. He said the current program fully complies with WADA's rules and regulations.

"I have to say, nobody could be anything other than hugely impressed by the amount of work that has been done," Reedie told authorities at the Kingston office of the Jamaica Olympic Association at the close of his visit.

Among other measures, Jamaican authorities have carried out more tests, improved staffing, replaced the board of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) and boosted the budget for the anti-doping program. The investment came as other government budgets were being slashed, with the island laboring under its latest loan program with the International Monetary Fund.

The improvements were made by JADCO's new leadership in collaboration with the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport.

Jamaican lawmakers also authorized an anti-doping act, which took effect last month.

"From the WADA point of view, we are proud of what you have achieved. You have become an excellent case study because there are many areas of the world which need the enthusiasm and the ability that you have shown," said Reedie, who visited Jamaica at the invitation of Michael Fennell, the head of the Jamaica Olympic Association.

JADCO director Carey Brown said the island should introduce blood testing for its athletes in April so blood profiles can be monitored over time.

Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley thanked WADA for its help improving the local anti-doping program since it carried out an audit in Jamaica. She said it was done as a "partnership, not a dictatorship."

Jamaica has been attempting to repair its image since the former head of its drug-testing agency, Renee Anne Shirley, disclosed in 2013 that there had been a virtual absence of out-of-competition testing for six months before the London Games. Jamaican athletes were tested internationally by the IAAF, but not at home by their own anti-doping authorities.

Eight Jamaican athletes tested positive in 2013, including former 100-meter record holder Asafa Powell and three-time Olympic medalist Sherone Simpson. Powell and Simpson had their 18-month bans cut to six months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic at a national meet, but was cleared by CAS because of flaws in the test collection procedure.

Led by track superstar Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica's track and field athletes have won 28 medals over the past three Olympics. Bolt has won six Olympic gold medals and nine world championship golds and will be going for more at this year's world championships in Beijing and next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.


David McFadden on Twitter: : http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

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