Minister with responsibility for Sports, Hon Natalie Neita Headley, is suggesting that the University of the West Indies (UWI) develop its laboratory into an internationally accredited drug testing facility for the region.
"This, I believe, will allow for Jamaican sporting bodies and Caribbean sporting bodies make use of our own local facilities and to save on the expenses of sending samples for testing further afield," Mrs. Neita Headley said.
The Minister was speaking at the UWI Pelican Sports award ceremony 2012, held on September 27, at the Mona Visitor's Lodge, St. Andrew.
She stated that the university is fully equipped to undertake such an initiative, as it has the technology as well as the country's top scientists.
"Let us make the move so that we can get this done. It would be a fantastic achievement, I think, for Jamaica and the University of the West Indies. You have the expertise; you have the facilities to detect drugs at levels which I believe, are first world and first rate," the Sports Minister said.
"The institution’s chief analyst has been trained to analyse the various synthetic and natural steroids and the university's analytical capabilities are on par with international standards," she added.
Mrs. Neita Headley also argued that the university has the capacity to develop a testing centre for a range of additional athletic needs including biomechanics.
She stated that the establishment of a high quality biometric testing programme at the university “will bring sports science here at the university to another level”.
"In addition, academics teaching programmes like the Masters in Sports Medicine, the Masters in Sports and Exercise Medicine, which were specifically designed for registered physiotherapist to manage sport injuries and athletic rehabilitation, all show the extent of the university’s commitment to incorporating all aspects of sport into its curriculum," Mrs. Neita Headley stated.
She disclosed that plans are already underway to establish an Institute of Sports Medicine at UWI, which will house the school of physical therapy.
"It is hoped that the institute will provide the athletes access to medical care, enabling them to benefit from the best investigative and treatment facility as well as services in physiotherapy, orthopaedic care, physical medicine and rehabilitation," Mrs. Neita Headley stated.
The Sports Minister also challenged the university to continue to focus attention on the personal development of the nation’s athletes, so that they will be able to navigate media scrutiny and speak well for themselves and the nation in any forum.
The annual UWI sports awards ceremony was held under the theme: '50/50 Our UWI, Our Independence'.
Olympic 110-meter hurdles bronze medalist, Hansle Parchment was named Sportsman of the Year, while the Sports Woman of the year title went to national netball representative, Mallysha Kelly.