- Government’s anti-doping initiative in schools, will promote the importance of good nutrition
- Young athletes need to be knowledgeable about banned substances and food supplements
- Young athletes who give outstanding performances are subjected to tests
Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for Sport, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, says the focus of Government’s anti-doping initiative in schools, will be concentrated more toward promoting the importance of good nutrition and discouraging doping, rather than testing every young athlete.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on July 23, Mrs. Neita-Headley said since the Prime Minister made a statement on the topic, “there has been quite a bit of controversy and that is as a result of persons not being very clear on what was meant.”
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, informed the House of Representatives on July 16, that the Government would begin testing young athletes in schools. She noted however, that this system would be introduced in conjunction with public education and sensitization programmes.
Minister Neita-Headley explained that the Government’s plan will focus on assisting young athletes to understand the importance of good nutrition, in an effort to eliminate the temptation of taking food supplements.
“Currently, young athletes are being tested as part of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games and Penn Relays. What is not happening is that we are not conducting those tests on a wide scale here in Jamaica, as part of our championships,” the Minister added.
She emphasized the need for young athletes to be knowledgeable about banned substances and food supplements and to take full responsibility for what goes into their bodies, adding that a lot of what is packaged into supplements can be found in our local everyday ground provisions, including yams.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr.Warren Blake, said that young athletes who give outstanding performances are subjected to tests when they perform at the national level.
“The approach to test exceptional young athletes is a means of validating our track and field programme, to show that this is obtained through genuine endeavours and competitiveness and not the result of illegal substances in sports,” Dr. Blake said.
He further informed that the programme of anti-doping education in high schools will be strengthened.
“The education programme has been going on in the high schools for some time, and when strengthened it will inform the young athletes on what to expect,” Dr. Blake pointed out.