Victor Conte: Lax drug-testing policy hurts legitimacy of Jamaican track and field
By Victor Conte
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, August 3, 2013.
According to the USADA’s web site there were 2,279 tests performed on U.S. track and field athletes in 2012. JADCO, meanwhile, performed a mere 106 tests, of which 68 were performed out of competition.
An open letter about the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission’s ineptness and lack of transparency.
My primary concern with Jamaica’s anti-doping program has been its lack of transparency. I have openly and repeatedly criticized JADCO for not routinely providing annual drug testing statistics. Many of the world’s anti-doping programs under the guidance of the WADA code do provide annual testing statistics and for good reason.
In my opinion, JADCO’s chairman, Dr. Herb Elliott, has provided poor leadership during the last five years since the organization’s inception. Only after the recent rash of positive drug tests, including those on Jamaican Olympic sprinters Asafa Powell and Sharone Simpson, has some partial drug testing data been released to the public.
In mid-July, when Dr. Elliott was asked how many out-of-competition tests had taken place in 2013, he failed to provide a clear answer, responding with, “I don’t want our athletes to know whether it’s 400 or 500 or whatever.”
Interestingly, The Gleaner reported on July 29 that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had revealed that since 2009, there have been 16 adverse analytical findings among Jamaican athletes. She also revealed that during the last five years, a total of 860 tests have been conducted by JADCO with 504 tests conducted in competition and 356 tests conducted out of competition.
Unless all 356 out-of-competition tests reported were conducted in 2013, it seems that Dr. Elliott may have provided some rather misleading information.
(I consider in-competition drug tests to be more IQ tests than drug tests because athletes can simply taper off before competitions and easily avoid testing positive. I believe that random out-of-competition tests are a far more effective use of the available resources.)
On July 30, WADA released its annual anti-doping report, which indicated JADCO had performed a mere 106 anti-doping tests in all of 2012, of which 68 were performed out of competition.
To put this into perspective, WADA reported that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency performed 4,051 tests in 2012.
According to The Gleaner, Dr. Elliott’s response was that the 106 tests conducted by Jamaica were primarily of track and field athletes, calling it “adequate” for its population. At major championships, whether a country’s population is 3 million or 300 million, each country is allowed up to three male and three female athletes for each of the 25 track and field events.
Over the last five years, Jamaica’s major championship track and field teams have averaged about 50 athletes compared to 150 for the United States.
According to USADA’s web site there were 2,279 tests performed on U.S. track and field athletes in 2012. Even if all 106 tests performed in 2012 by JADCO were on track and field athletes, this cannot be considered adequate testing in comparison with the U. S. and many other nations competing at the Olympic Games.
I also believe that it is important for anti-doping commissions to report the number of “missed tests.” Under the WADA code athletes are allowed to miss two tests in any given 18-month period without being subjected to doping charges. Many countries’ anti-doping programs provide statistics for “missed tests” on an annual basis. How many “missed tests” has JADCO had in each of the last five years? If this information has been reported, I have not been able to find it. Once more, I consider these to be important details that Dr. Elliott has failed to disclose.
The sudden rise to world dominance by numerous male and female Jamaican sprinters, coupled with such a significant number of positive drug tests, is highly suspicious in my opinion. I also think JADCO’s lack of drug testing transparency over the last five years has contributed to the cloud of doubt that exists regarding the legitimacy of their many astonishing performances.
Victor Conte was the founder of BALCO, the Bay Area lab at the center of the government’s investigation into performance-enhancing drugs. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids in 2005. He is now a staunch anti-doping advocate.