KINGSTON — Attorney General, Ransford Braham, says that while Jamaica has embraced an aggressive and consistent anti-doping approach, rapid developments in sports medicine and technology are a threat to those efforts.
"The fast pace of these developments have threatened to outpace anti-doping testing regimes," Mr. Braham warned, in an address at the launch of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Anti- Doping in Sports Conference, on Tuesday (November 8) at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel.
A dynamic cadre of presenters are expected to participate in the second edition of the UWI's "Anti-Doping in Sport Conference", titled "Science and Law of Anti-Doping", which is scheduled for November 26 at the Faculty of Law, Mona.
Mr. Braham noted that there isan aggressive effort by countries, including Jamaica, to keep pace with newer and more sophisticated doping efforts by athletes and persons around them.
He pointed out that there has been the introduction, by the World Anti- Doping Agency (WADA), of longitudinal testing and other testing measures to combat genetic engineering, as well as continually adding new substances to the in-competition banned list of substances.
"This has yielded a, demonstrably, stronger regulatory framework for anti-doping efforts,” Mr. Braham observed.
He noted that WADA is contemplating even more significant changes that will profoundly shift the landscape of testing regimes. He said that, if these changes occur, there will “doubtlessly” be calls for Jamaica to adopt the changes.
“Inasmuch, as we are anxious to embrace aggressive efforts at protecting the integrity of sports, we also share a commitment to ensure that the rights of our athletes are preserved and that the distinctive factors and local conditions be considered in any future review of the WADA Code,” Mr. Braham cautioned.
The Attorney General also pointed to WADA’s contemplation of eliminating B-Sample testing and relying on one sample, a position which he said he did not support.
"We need to consider whether we should insist that our athletes have recourse to both the A and B samples for further testing and appeal, should an adverse finding occur?" Mr. Braham noted.
He also stated that there was a need to consider educating parents, and support persons athletes rely on, on the dangers of anti doping, and utilising them as critical vectors of change to ensure that the athletes do not become casualties of doping violations.
Commenting on the Anti-doping in Sports Conference, Mr. Braham said it holds the promise of triggering a national debate that must serve as a precursor for adopting or advancing any new standards for anti-doping testing and enforcement.
He said that deciding on the best approach for Jamaica, suggests a multi-pronged effort by all stakeholders.
"It requires a pro-active approach. We should not wait until developments unfold, and then we seek to reactively and retroactively address the situation. That is why I welcome this conference and its guiding motif," Mr. Braham said.
"We have to encourage all Jamaican stakeholders, who are keen to preserve and protect our legacy of sporting excellence, to buy into an overarching vision of advancing our interests and that of our athletes in a robust regulatory anti doping environment. In positioning our interests, we also need to consider the influence we may have in the wider international sphere," he concluded.
Chairman of the Anti- Doping Committee at the UWI, Dr. Rachel Irving, said that the new era of testing for illegal drugs, must be robust enough to keep pace and supersede the methods of cheaters and will probably involve the use of biomarker analysis. She explained that a Biomarker analysis is an indication, “in your system”, that something is wrong. The biomarker market is expected to eclipse US$12.8 billion by the year 2012.
"Due to the obvious clinical and commercial importance, we must develop a full understanding of biomarker analysis, while staying abreast of the under-currents in this evolving field," Dr. Irving stated.
Director of the Division of Sports Medicine at the UWI, Dr. Akshai Mansingh, said that the conference will be multi dimensional in nature.
"We are looking at anti doping; the law behind it. We are also looking at the psychology that plays in athletes minds, when it comes to deal with anti doping," Dr. Mansingh said.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter