(Reuters) – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday blasted Jamaican anti-doping officials for the mishandling of a drug test by sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown that led to a successful appeal of the three-time Olympic gold medallist’s two year ban.
In a scathing 58-page report explaining the decision to uphold Campbell-Brown’s appeal, a CAS panel cited errors in the collection and handling of the sprinter’s urine that could have resulted in contamination of the sample, calling into question the entire Jamaican anti-doping operation.
“In this case, the evidence before the panel establishes that the JAAA (Jamaica Athletic Administrative Associa-tion) has persistently failed to comply with the mandatory partial testing,” said CAS. “That systematic and knowing failure, for which no reasonable explanation has been advanced, is deplorable and gives rise to the most serious concerns about the overall integrity of the JAAA’s anti-doping processes, as exemplified in this case by the flaws in JADCO’s (Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission) sample collection and its documentation.”
Jamaican officials were not immediately available for comment.
Jamaican athletics, the world’s top sprinting power, has been rocked by a disturbing string of doping scandals with eight Jamaicans failing doping tests in 2013.
Last week former 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell was banned for 18 months by a Jamaican panel after he tested positive for a banned stimulant in 2013 while his former training partner Sherone Simpson received an 18-month suspension from the same panel for the same substance.
Both have appealed their suspensions to CAS.
Another Jamaican, Olympic discus thrower Allison Randall, was also handed a two-year ban for using the prohibited diuretic hydrochlorothiazide.
Campbell-Brown also returned a positive test for hydrochlorothiazide at the Jamaica International Invitational meeting in Kingston on May 4 and in October was given a public reprimand by a JAAA disciplinary panel.
But after a doping review board of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recommended a two-year doping ban, the Jamaican panel put the suspension in place in February.
Campbell-Brown appealed the ban, her lawyers arguing that international standards were violated during her sample collection, thus compromising the integrity of the samples.
The three member CAS panel agreed that serious errors were made in the collection process noting that Campbell-Brown took her partial sample with her in a covered (but unsealed) collection vessel and went to the waiting room where several other athletes were present.
It was noted that Campbell-Brown placed the sample on the floor while she went to collect more water and did various exercises in an effort to produce more urine.
CAS said the errors left open the possibility of Campbell-Brown’s sample being contaminated by water or sweat through the spout of the collection bottle. “In this case, the evidence before the panel establishes that the JAAA has persistently failed to comply with the mandatory partial testing,” summed up the CAS report. “The panel notes the contradictory explanations provided by the JADCO witnesses to the JAAA Disciplinary Panel in September 2013, which cause further concern about the reliability of the evidence adduced against the athlete.
“The panel’s assessment of the athlete’s testimony fortifies its conclusion that the evidence is insufficient to establish a doping violation to the requisite standard of proof.
“The panel concludes that the athlete’s appeal should be allowed on the ground that the panel is not comfortably satisfied that the athlete committed the charged anti-doping violation.”