Usain Bolt has welcomed plans by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to introduce hair follicle testing to catch drug cheats saying he had “no problem” with the new measures.
Speaking at an awards ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica, where the 100 and 200 meter world record holder was picking up his fifth RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman of the Year Award, he initially appeared surprised at news the new testing procedure will be introduced before going on to welcome its use.
“This is the first I’m hearing it,” said the 27-year-old, who is looking to win the 100m and 200m sprint double for the third Olympic Games in-a-row at Rio 2016.
“But I think that anyway you can crack down on drug use in sports, I have no problem with it.
“If it’s a new rule and it’s a better way to clamp down on this, then I welcome it.”
Bolt claimed back in November that the controversy engulfing Jamaican sprinting following a spate of failed drug tests in 2013 saw him lose a potentially lucrative sponsorship deal.
The crisis was sparked by a glut of failed drugs tests involving eight Jamaican athletes, including former world 100-meter record holder Asafa Powell, triple Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and London 2012 silver medalist Sherone Simpson.
It followed claims by Renee Anne Shirley, former director of the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO), that out-of-competition testing was insufficient ahead of the 2012 Olympics, where Jamaican athletes won 12 medals, including four gold.
WADA officials carried out an emergency two-day visit to the Caribbean island in October to get a handle on the situation which was followed in November by a raft of resignations from JADCO’s executive management structure, led by chairman Herb Elliot.
Jamaican Sports Minister Natalie Neita-Headley also promised to conduct a comprehensive review of the Jamaican anti-doping legislation and appoint qualified drug testing officers.
The potential new testing measures were announced by Sir Craig, who was elected as the new President of WADA at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg last November.
He has claimed a new $10 million (£6 million/€7.3 million) fund set up by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will enable authorities to develop new testing techniques such as using hair follicles to clamp down on drug cheats.
The current system relies heavily on testing blood and urine samples.
New JADCO executive director Carey Brown also welcomed the new measures being taken by WADA.
“We welcome anything like that because, I mean, it would be something new… something innovative,” he said. “Using hair follicles, as well, is also less invasive.”
This was republished with permission from Gary Anderson, a writer with Inside the Games. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.