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Caught Jamaican drug cheats ‘tip of iceberg’

DRUG POSITIVE: Asafa Powell failed a drugs test this year (PA)

RECENT DRUG scandals that have thrown Jamaican athletics into disrepute “could be the icberg” with potentially more of the island’s stars falling foul of anti-doping rules, the country’s top drug tester says.

The troubling warning comes from Dr Paul Wright, whose comments about the inadequacy of Jamaica’s anti-doping regime come after ex-Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) executive director Renee Anne Shirley revealed authorities conducted only one out-of-competition test in the six months prior to the 2012 Olympics in London.

Sprinter Asafa Powell and track star Sherone Simpson are two of the most high-profile athletes from the island who have tested positive for banned substances this year – results that have seriously damaged the image and reputation of Jamaica on the international stage.

Speaking to BBC Sport a week after the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) visited Jamaica to investigate allegations of anti-doping failures, Wright said: “The results are not good, this year alone the results really point the finger.

“Remember, all of these results except one were caught by Jadco. The problem is these people were tested positive in competition. What that means is 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.”

Wright, a senior doping control officer with 30 years experience in Jadco, added: “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.”

He also criticised Wada officials for not spending enough time in Jamaica to get to the bottom of the allegations.

“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.”

After Wada’s inspection, minister for sport Natalie Neita Headley promised that the government would invest more money into anti-doping measures and testing – increasing the current annual budget of about £380,000.

Headley said: “I would recognise that the events of the last couple of months would have harmed us tremendously. I recognise that.

“I also recognise that what is important is that the country puts all of what is needed in place to beef up a system, bolster your system that where there might be weaknesses you strengthen, where there might be any difficulties that you remove those difficulties.”

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