Concern within the IOC and ASOIF about WADA’s idiosyncratic administrative behavior is further illustrated by the controversy involving Jamaica. This reached a climax last Saturday, during the IAAF’s Gala in Monte Carlo, when president Lamine Diack asserted that accusations against the world’s dominant sprint nation were becoming “absurd.”
The controversy has arisen with a rash of positives, and the suggestion by WADA director David Howman that Jamaica’s anti-doping body could be deemed non-compliant: thereby banning their athletes from competition. This provoked Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – female winner alongside Usain Bolt of the International Athletic Foundation’s “Athlete-of-the-Year” awards- to suggest going on strike unless Jamaica’s doping authority gets its act together.
Bolt was not supportive of such a threat: “Negative publicity is costing me money from sponsors! ” but the inference of domestic administration inefficiency was clear enough.
Howman’s warning to Jamaica epitomizes the concern among the International Federations a few months after Francesco Ricci-Bitti, president of ASOIF and of international tennis, in a letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge, complaining both of Wada’s authoritarian attitude – exceeding its strict role as drugs monitor – and the lack of governmental support.
Speaking from ITF’s London headquarters, Ricci-Bitti told sport intern: “ I welcome attention being given to proper government support and funding of national agencies. WADA needs to put pressure on govenments. There are still too few national agencies, and not enough governments are doing what was expected in a 50-50 partnership with sport itself. It’s currently dependent (the anti-doping campaign) on sport alone. No one wants to see top athletes excluded from a Games, and with Jamaica that would be an extreme measure, not what we want. We need governments to be instituting effective, compliant laboratories — both partners in WADA doing their part, not making threats.”
IOC vice-president Craig Reedie, incoming head of WADA in January, has been carefully delicate in his comment to BBC when reflecting on Fraser-Pryce’s proposed strike action. “If that helps Jamaica to re-inforce what they’ve got to do, and be much more effective, then maybe her actions will be of help in the fight against doping in that country…..when leading athletes have said ‘we think you should be doing better’, that becomes a compelling argument.”
Diack’s reaction was predictable. In the past year, IAAF have tested 198 Jamaican athletes, WADA have tested nine. In Kenya, where there is likewise concern, IAAF have tested 776 athletes, WADA none.
IAAF is not a “test-free” zone, even though the sport’s credibility, together with cycling , has suffered continual harassment. Yet paramount within testing – by WADA’s accredited laboratories, Moscow’s currently under scrutiny prior to Sochi’s Winter Games -is efficient procedure, clearly lacking in Jamaica. Management structure under government supervision has been inadequate, guidance from Montreal HQ rather than aggression has been required.
When an entire sport or nation is under suspicion, the damage to public trust is incalculable. Equally serious is the guilt-by-association imposed on the innocent. Usain Bolt has triple times his gold medals in negative tests. Jamaica’s anti-doping body needs aid rather than damnation.
This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.