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The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) is continuing its vigilance against doping in sports, and ensuring that athletes, their managers, and support personnel are informed and updated on the issues surrounding doping.

This is being done through a series of anti-doping workshops around the island, the first of which was held yesterday March 23, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

The workshop, which featured guest presenter, Kerwin Clarke, Manager for Results Management/Legal Affairs at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), looked at critical areas of the anti-doping process, such as: doping control; the WADA anti-doping code; the prohibited list of substances and methods of testing; biological passport, and other elements that are important to understanding the process. Participants in the workshop included athletes, athlete support personnel, and key technical administrative staff.

Executive Director of JADCO, Dr. Patrece Charles-Freeman, explained, in an interview that over the past three years, the Commission recognised that many stakeholders did not understand some of the specific topics surrounding anti-doping, such as the prohibited list of substances, sanctions, and managing medication.

“So, we came up with the cross island workshops, because we wanted to cater not just to our stakeholders, which are athletes and sports personnel in Kingston, but we wanted to also go to the rural areas,” she elaborated.

Dr. Charles-Freeman said JADCO's continued educational drive has resulted in greater responses from athletes and the sports community as a whole. “It wouldn’t be really fair to sanction an athlete if  he or she is not aware of the facts…so, we have increased our drive, not just for elite senior athletes, but we are really getting into the secondary schools,” she said.

“It is important to start from the junior athletes…as you see what is happening with Boys and Girls Champs, and how we have gone international,” she added.

The Executive Director noted that the Commission has been partnering with the Ministry of Education to have anti-doping included in the curriculum for secondary schools.

As it relates to the controversial matter of testing, Dr. Charles-Freeman said that for minors, this process is completely different than that used for senior athletes. “For a minor, you must have a parent or guardian present, during notification and during the doping control process…so, when you approach a junior athlete, you ask for their parent or guardian, you notify them of testing, and then they have to sign that they approve that you are going to test (the minor). They have to be with the (minors) all the time,” she emphasised.

Dr. Charles Freeman said while there has not yet been testing at the annual Boys and Girls Championships, there has been testing of junior athletes at other junior events. “We haven’t yet ruled out testing at Boys and Girls Champs,” she noted. JADCO has also established Memoranda of Understanding with tertiary institutions that specialise in sports, such as GC Foster College.  “We will also be conducting lectures and workshops that will be certified by the Ministry of Education,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Charles-Freeman said the agency, though small, was “doing well,” even with limited resources.  She said its most remarkable achievement to date in protecting sports and athletes against doping, was the passage of the Anti-Doping in Sports Act, in 2008.

 

By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter