PM: Jamaica to Launch Drug Testing System For High School Athletes

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Above: Portia Simpson Miller

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Following the revelation that a pair of high-profile Jamaican sprinters had tested positive for banned substances, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the country had “a lot more to do to safeguard integrity in sport and protect Brand Jamaica.”

One of the ways to do so is the initiation of drug testing at the high school level, she said, along with a strengthened public education programme both in high schools and “sensitization programmes” at the primary school level.

“We need to initiate a system for High School level testing for athletes involved in training and competition in sport in accordance with appropriate approvals from the Ministry of Education, ISSA and the parents and guardians of these youngsters,” she told Parliament on Tuesday.

She said that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission “has consistently had a rigorous programme 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,” she said.

Simpson Miller also addressed what some had considered a “delayed response” by the government to the news, which saw Olympic medalists Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson test positive.

“As a government we have made every effort 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,” she said. “Indeed, one of the athletes was only notified yesterday as he was traveling so we had to delay our public statement until we were sure that due process was observed.”

She also said Jamaica’s athletes needed to be “far more vigilant” in protecting themselves from potentially prohibited substances, but urged restraint as the process unfolds.

“I ask Jamaica to refrain at this time from making judgments and conclusions about what has been reported in the media,” she said. “Let us not be disheartened. Let us continue to allow the Results Management process to run its course.”