• Athletics

Jamaica 'has never carried out a blood test'

ESPN staff
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Asafa Powell tested positive for a banned substance in July © Getty Images
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A former Jamaica anti-doping chief has claimed the Caribbean island has never carried out a single blood test - and is at risk of botching their prosecutions of Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson.

Renee Anne Shirley, the ex-head of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, says the organisation is so understaffed that the January drug hearings for Powell and Simpson - accused of taking banned stimulants - are at risk of collapsing.

Shirley was JADCO's executive director from July 2012 until February this year. She recently claimed in a magazine article that the organisation conducted just one out-of-competition test in the six months leading up to the Olympics, prompting the World Anti-Doping Agency to reveal on Monday that they will visit Jamaica in January to launch an "extraordinary" probe into the island's anti-doping programme.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Shirley has widened her accusations by claiming that blood-testing kits that were delivered to JADCO during her time there were never used, with Jamaican athletes only subjected to urine tests.

However human growth hormone (HGH) - a performance-enhancing substance which could hand sprinters an advantage - can only be detected by blood testing.

"Why have they not started doing blood tests and looking for things like HGH?" Shirley said. "I know that 30 kits were bought and I left them there. To the best of my knowledge, eight months later I don't know if Jamaica has started doing blood tests.

"When you look at the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] statistics, I think they said they did nine blood tests last year on Jamaican athletes, so it's not a lot of blood-testing."

JADCO chairman Herb Elliot labelled Shirley as "demented" and "a Judas" after her previous accusations. But she has defiantly insisted she is not fazed by the criticisms, saying they are "washing off my back".

Shirley has also claimed JADCO do not have enough staff to successfully handle the mounting number of disciplinary hearings it faces.

On Tuesday, Olympic taekwondo player Kenneth Edwards became the eighth Jamaican athlete to test positive in 2013 after failing a test for a banned diuretic. Powell, Simpson and Veronica Campbell-Brown were part of a group of six track and field athletes to test positive, while international footballer Jermaine Hue received a nine-month ban for testing positive for a steroid.

Campbell-Brown escaped a suspension however, given just a public reprimand by a Jamaican disciplinary panel earlier this month. The IAAF's doping review panel are considering an appeal.

Shirley said: "We have a number of doping positives which are going to need to be managed because JADCO has to manage the results process and put the cases together to go to the hearings. My concern is that the staff is not in place to do this job and nobody is addressing this issue. This process must be managed and cases have to be put together with witness statements.

"In Jamaica, we can't afford for people to get off on a technicality because there was some breach in the processing of the paperwork.

"The Asafa Powell situation is also compounded by the criminal investigation that was going on in Italy. The details of the case are going to have to come forward and it's going to have to be rigorously handled. On the legal side, JADCO is going to have to present a case - what was found, all the details - and it needs to stand scrutiny in the eyes of the world because everybody's going to be watching."

There is a possibility Powell could escape without punishment if JADCO do not have the resources to present a proper case.

Shirley added: "Starting with Veronica Campbell-Brown, I'm waiting with interest to see what the technical committee at the IAAF has to say about her being given a warning. It should have been a two-year ban and, typically, for you to get a reduction you have to show 'exceptional circumstances'. So it will be interesting to see what happens."

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