KINGSTON: The Government of Jamaica says while it “stands by all our athletes”, it adheres to the rules governing anti-doping in sports.
On Tuesday, former world record holder, Asafa Powell and Olympic medallist, Sherone Simpson, along with their trainer, Christopher Xuereb of Toronto, were formally placed under criminal investigation by Italian police for allegedly violating Italy’s doping laws. The announcement came a day after Italian police confiscated unidentified substances in a raid on the hotel where the trio was staying in the northeastern town of Lignano Sabbiadoro. As of press time, Italian police were still analyzing the substances seized.
Minister with responsibility for Sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, said Jamaica, through its Anti-Doping Agency (JADCO), “has consistently had a rigorous program for in and out of competition testing while providing public education for all who participate or wish to participate in sport, including at the high school level.
“The rigour of this program is not new and it is clearly effective as it is from our own testing protocol that the adverse findings in these ‘A’ Samples have been revealed,” she said.
Powell and Simpson have tested positive for banned substances found in samples provided by the athletes at the National Senior Championships held last month. Both athletes, who are members of the MVP Track Club, have released statements confirming they have been notified of the return of positive ‘A’ samples.
“As a government we have had to adhere to the rules governing the notification of the athletes whose ‘A’ Samples have returned Adverse Analytical Findings following testing at the National Junior and Senior Championships in June.
“We stand by all our athletes and value the significant contributions they make toward engendering national pride. However, as a country we reiterate the importance of integrity in sport, fair play, and the maintenance of a doping free sporting environment,” said Neita-Headley.
The main opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has cautioned against a rush to judgment.
“Jamaica is currently under the microscope globally, as our ascendancy in track and field means that we are being focused on. Our athletes will get special attention and, therefore, the temptation to jump to negative conclusion without all the facts, could be very appealing to some,” said the party’s spokesman on sports, Olivia “Babsy” Grange.