KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC- A leading Jamaican track and field coach, Glen Mills, has lashed out at sections of the international community for what he says is unfair targeting of the island.
Jamaica’s anti-doping programme has been subjected to intense international scrutiny lately, particularly following a damning report written by former Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) Executive Director Renée Anne Shirley.
“They target Jamaica because of its success. There is no doubt about it … ,” declared Mills in an interview with the Gleaner.
“The Jamaican anti-doping programme is, by comparison, fairly new. Most countries performing at our level have been well advanced in their anti-doping programmes in terms of years of experience and expertise.”
Shirley’s report, among other things, accused the local powers of not being serious enough about anti-doping after six Jamaicans, including star athletes Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, tested positive for banned substances.
JADCO was formally established in 2008 after the passage of the Anti-Doping in Sport Act.
“I believe that the criticism is somewhat harsh in that based on the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) came here and did an evaluation of the programme and gave it a thumbs up, and that was as early as last year, I am a bit surprised that Jamaica, a couple months later, is being seen as a country that is not developing or enforcing a good anti-doping programme,” said Mills, who conditions sprint stars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.
“Why? Nobody wants to see Jamaica continue its dominance of sprinting at the world level. And the international media – again, one has to question the balance of their reporting. I have read some terrible articles written about Jamaica. I have read some terrible articles trying to insinuate that Usain Bolt’s success is false because of all of this”.
Mills also criticized the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), which he blames for not doing enough to defend the image of the island.
He also accused the Jamaican Government of dragging its feet in the anti-doping efforts.
“The Government is lagging behind; whether it is a financial reason or whatever, but they need to do a lot more. They could even set up what I would call a helpline where an athlete can call in and ask about a medication and receive advice if there is any danger or get it tested,” Mills advised.
“I also feel that the JAAA has not done a good job in managing the whole thing and defending Jamaica’s image. Too often they have been silent and dormant, as if they are afraid to come out and defend Jamaica’s image.”
More than 16 Jamaicans have tested positive for banned substances since 2008.