Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Jamaica is internationally famous mainly for two things. It is the birthplace of reggae music, and dominates athletic sprint events. There have been many theories as to why this is, ranging from the prevalence of the Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) and ACTN3 genes in Jamaican athletes, aluminium ore deposits in Jamaican soil, to the status and importance of athletic meets in Jamaica, which generate the equivalent amount of interest to a college football game in the US.
For an island with under three million inhabitants, Jamaica is understandably proud of its athletic achievements. However, the nation’s pride has been dented by a number of doping allegations in recent years. In 2013, Jamaican sport was hit by a number of positive tests, involving stars such as Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson. This could have been viewed as evidence that the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) was doing its job, however there were allegations that testing of athletes had not been rigorous enough, especially ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games. In 2012, JADCO carried out 179 tests – 108 in competition (IC) and 71 out of competition (OOC), however it is understood that 60 of the 71 OOC tests were carried out after London 2012, and not one blood test was carried out in the year before the Games.
An audit by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) followed in October 2013, which was presented to JADCO at WADA’s annual World Conference on Doping in Sport, 12-15 November 2013, Johannesburg. The audit, which it is understood has never been made public, included recommendations to work with an established national anti-doping organisation (NADO); a review of anti-doping legislation in Jamaica; as well as an evaluation of JADCO’s governance and management structure. Jamaican Minister for Sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, pledged J$8 million (€600,000) would be earmarked to assist with the changes. At the end of November 2013, the entire JADCO board resigned, a change which Neita-Headley said was necessary in order to restore public confidence in JADCO.
Since then, JADCO has not been sitting back on its haunches. Following WADA’s recommendations, in March last year it formed a partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and in December, the Anti-Doping in Sports Bill was passed by the Jamaican Parliament. JADCO has also launched a dedicated internet site, which as well as featuring news and information, offers advice to athletes and educational programmes. The site is – of course – backed by a regularly updated Facebook page and Twitter feed.
As of August 2014, 90 athletes featured in its Registered Testing Pool, plus nine in its Standard Registered Testing Pool. As at time of press, JADCO did not have figures on the number of tests it planned to carry out in 2015.
The Sports Integrity Initiative spoke to Carey Brown, who was appointed as JADCO Executive Director in November 2013. Brown formerly worked for the Ministry of Youth and Culture and the Ministry of Finance and Planning. We asked him about Jamaica’s new Act and the changes it makes to the management of anti-doping in Jamaica
SII: When will the Jamaican Anti-Doping in Sports Bill come into force, and what is it designed to do?
CB: It will come into force on the 1st of January 2015 – it is already in force. As it relates to the organisation – meaning JADCO – it clearly outlines the roles and functions of the board of the anti-doping commission – i.e. the executive staff and management. It clearly outlines the role of the Executive Director in terms of their day-to-day management of the organisation. It mandates that the Board is to provide strategic oversight. So, it is more about setting up and establishing the different arms of the Jamaican anti-doping programme. In terms of anti-doping in Jamaica, we will still follow our rules, the Code and any other international rules and guidelines. It really doesn’t change how we do what we do in terms of anti-doping on the ground, but it does clearly outline the roles and functions of the management and staff of the anti-doping commission.
SII: What changes did it make over the previous Bill?
CB: In section 7, it outlines the role of the board of directors. To quote from it: ‘The board shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be responsible for the quality and strategy direction of the governance of the commission. In performance of its functions, the board shall monitor the administrative operations of the commission, ensure that the executive director, the officers and the employees of the commission comply with the Code, the international standards and the anti-doping rules, advise the Ministers in any matter related to doping in sport, develop and approve the rules, aided by the commission’.
If you go further down to section 10, which relates to the Executive Director and staff, this section wasn’t in the previous Act at all. In the previous Act, it just said that ‘the Commission’ was responsible for certain roles and functions. This is clearly separated out now so, for example, ‘Subject to subsection 2, the board may appoint an Executive Director, on such remuneration, terms and conditions as it sees fit.
There is a new section that outlines who would be disqualified from being appointed to the board and why. For example, if you are an acting member of an event organiser, association or federation, you would be disqualified from being appointed to the board. It also outlines the Executive Director’s responsibilities in setting up a registered testing pool; making sure that we do the mandatory reporting required by Jamaican law as well as under the Code.
In terms of testing of citizen and non-citizen athletes and of notifying athletes of their test results, the Act clearly outlines that this is the responsibility of the Executive Director and his management team, while in the previous Act, it just said that ‘the Commission’ was responsible.
SII: Would Jamaica ever consider making doping a criminal offence?
CB: Unlike some other countries such as Germany, which is seeking to make doping a criminal offence, we haven’t gone down that road. What this Act does is make sure that people are clear about the roles and functions of the different bodies involved with the anti-doping programme.
Although it was covered in the previous Act, the new Act also makes it clearer that the disciplinary panel – which is now the independent anti-doping disciplinary panel – and the anti-doping appeals tribunal are independent of JADCO. There was a perception out there that JADCO appointed these bodies. This was stated in the previous Act, but the new Act spells it out more clearly that these bodies are independent of JADCO. The way it works is that if there is an anti-doping rule violation, we present our cases to them.
SII: Does the Bill specify whether doping controls apply to Jamaicans only, or all athletes competing on Jamaican soil?
CB: It does codify how doping controls apply to athletes in Jamaica. Also, the Code changes from time to time. The Act references the Code and International Standards that will come into force, so that you wouldn’t need to make changes to the Bill every time a new set of rules comes into force.
SII: Obviously, the 2015 Code came into force at the start of this year – will it make a difference in the fight against doping?
CB: One of the important areas of change is that for a first offence, the sanction has moved from two years to four years. I think that this will make people more careful in what they are doing, because if you are subject to a four year ban, you will miss the Olympic cycle or Commonwealth Games cycle, or a World Championships cycle.
This allows for the athlete and athlete support personnel to take a step back, because there are often cases where people will return an adverse analytical finding and it is not a matter of intent, it’s just that they were not careful. The thought of missing a whole competition cycle also puts a little more pressure on you to make sure that you are checking your medications and anything else you are taking into your body. This is very, very important.
SII: What challenges does JADCO expect in the coming year?
CB: As with any anti-doping organisation, we know that we have our work cut out for us. What we have to do is ensure that we are keeping within the standards, keeping within our rules, keeping within the law. It’s a matter of crossing the ts and dotting the is.
One of the things that we have to ensure we are pushing is education. No matter how much you are out there as an athlete, once you are required to be compliant with the Code and the rules, if you are not educated on what you are required to do, it doesn’t help athletes or athlete support personnel. One of the challenges we do face is to make sure that our education programme is getting out there to everybody in different ways and different forms. People learn differently.
We have to make sure that we are on top of the educational aspect, because you can never know too much. If people are properly educated, they can make informed decisions. If they are not, they can’t. We don’t want lack of education to be an excuse.
SII: Following the audit in 2013, how is JADCO’s relationship with WADA?
CB: I have been here since the first of November 2013. We’ve had a very good relationship with WADA. We are cooperating in a joint initiative programme with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), which is helping with our mentoring and capability. When we have meetings with them, WADA is part of that meeting. Generally speaking, we have dialogue with them on a regular basis in a number of areas from whereabouts to resource management, for example.
I can say that from where I sit, the relationship is very good. We are always in constant dialogue with them and the CCES to see how we can improve the system here.
We are having a symposium on the 29th of January to introduce our stakeholders, their new roles, to discuss the Code and to just have a general discussion around some of the topical areas in anti-doping at in Jamaica the moment. We want people to input feedback. One of the areas which evokes a lot of emotion is testing of minors. It is a matter of educating personnel as to what is involved in that and how it is handled under the rules and under the Code.
We are not here to hunt anybody down. We are here to protect the clean athletes. If you are being tested regularly according to the standards and your results are coming back, you can go out and brag to say hey, I’m doing the right thing.
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