By Duncan Mackay at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg

Jamaican Olympic Association President Mike Fennell has defended his country's anti-doping recordNovember 13 - Critics of Jamaica's anti-doping programme which has cast a shadow over the achievements of the likes of Usain Bolt are "uninformed" the head of the country's National Olympic Committee has claimed here. 


Mike Fennell, head of the Jamaican Olympic Association (JOA), claimed the comments by senior figures like World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President John Fahey that they had "dropped the ball" damaged the reputation of Bolt, winner of three Olympic gold medals at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Fennell's comments came in light of a WADA report, presented to the organisation's ruling Executive Board here yesterday, which found that following a visit to Kingston last month the anti-doping programme run by the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. 

"A lot of the comments that are being made are not just unfortunate but uninformed and not really related to the facts," Fennell told insidethegames at the World Conference on Doping in Sport.

"We have some weaknesses that have been corrected.

"The integrity of our testing programme has been proved and, therefore, this is just something we are going to strengthen. 

"Work is being done to get outside assistance to see not just how we can not just strengthen the work of JADCO but raise the bar in terms of their professional activities and efficiency.

"All of this is being done."

Usain Bolt celebrates his victory in the 200 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow earlier this year ©Getty ImagesUsain Bolt celebrates his victory in the 200 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow earlier this year ©Getty Images

Fennell claimed it was wrong that doubts were being cast over Bolt and other top Jamaican sprinters, who finished third overall in the medals at this year's International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Moscow with six gold medals. 

"All our top international stars are continuously being tested because they are in the registered testing pool of the international federation," he said.

"The IAAF have confirmed that they athletes have been tested regularly and continuously."

There had been new doubt cast over Jamaica's anti-programme earlier this week when Dr Paul Wright, JADCO's senior doping control officer, had told the BBC in an interview that the doping problems the country is currently experiencing could be just the "tip of the iceberg".

It followed comments made earlier this year to American magaizine Sports Illustrated by JADCO's former executive director Renee Anne Shirley that the agency conducted just one out-of-competition test in the six months leading up to London 2012.

Jamaica's Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley defended her country's anti-doping programme but did acknowledge there were some areas they could improve.

"We do have some weaknesses and we will work towards strengthening them and ensuring that where there are gaps we will fill them," she told insidethegames

Arthur Wint claimed Jamaica's first-ever Olympic gold medal when he won the 400 metres on the country's debut at London 1948 ©Keystone/Getty ImagesArthur Wint claimed Jamaica's first-ever Olympic gold medal when he won the 400 metres on the country's debut at London 1948 ©Keystone/Getty Images

But she claimed people were forgetting that Jamaica's Olympic heritage stretched back to London 1948 when they made their debut in the Games and won three medals, including a gold for Arthur Wint in the 400 metres

"We have a long and illustrious history of success in sport," Neita-Headley

"It's not an overnight thing.

"There is no-one who is familiar with athletics who can say that Jamaica has only come onto the world [stage] in recent times.

"Those who understand the process would know we have an institutionalised system in Jamaica that allows us to continue to produce good athletes who are keen on not cheating."

Neita-Headley claimed that a spate of recent high-profile positive drug cases, including former world 100m record holder Asafa Powell, were as the result of "accidental" doping.

"I believe we have had some unfortunate incidents with supplements," she said.

"We have a duty of education that will need to be ramped up in the near future."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]ames.biz


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