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Jamaica doping busts 'tip of the iceberg'

ESPN staff
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Warren Weir, Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake could miss out on Rio 2016 © PA Photos
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Jamaica's recent slew of failed doping tests could be just the "tip of the iceberg", according to the Caribbean island's most senior drug tester.

Dr Paul Wright, a doping control officer with the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission with over 30 years' experience, told the BBC that Jamaica's drug-testing programme has fallen embarrassingly far of the international standards required.

Last week the World Anti-Doping Agency conducted a probe into the island's doping regime amid claims their athletes were not being tested a sufficient amount of times. WADA president John Fahey had claimed Jamaica's sprint stars like six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt could miss out on Rio 2016 if JADCO do not bring about sweeping changes to their drug-testing programme.

The situation was sparked two months ago when a former JADCO chief claimed the organisation had carried out just a single out-of-competition test in the six months leading up to London 2012.

Renee Anne Shirley made the comments in Sports Illustrated after former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell and Olympic relay gold medallist Sherone Simpson failed tests along with three other Jamaican sprinters in June.

WADA will discuss their visit to Jamaica at a conference in Johannesburg starting on Tuesday. However Dr Wright feels more needs to be done to bring about the necessary changes in Jamaica's anti-doping policy, with the spate of the country's athletes failing tests causing him great concern.

"The results are not good," Wright told the BBC. "This year alone the results really point the finger.

"And remember, all of these results except one were caught by JADCO. The problem is these people were tested positive in competition. What that means is months before you know the date of the test and the approximate time of the test. So if you fail an in competition test you haven't only failed a drugs test, you have failed an IQ test.

"This could be the tip of the iceberg to have so many positives coming in competition.

"What is going to convince me is if there is an out-of-competition test that's unannounced, that includes blood testing and which tests for EPO. Then we can hold up our heads high and say that we know that there's nothing."

Fahey had promised WADA would carry out an "extraordinary" audit of JADCO - but Dr Wright says the visit was far too fleeting.

"I have a personal problem in what you can do in 12 hours," he said. "They really came late Monday evening and left first flight Wednesday morning. So they were only really here on Tuesday. And four hours of that was at a dinner function with the Prime Minister.

"It's not enough. Remember it was explained as an extraordinary audit. I would have loved them to have been here for a week, to have got answers to every question, to be able to question people who knew what was happening.

"Their intervention has led to the promise of change. If the promises are kept then we will get there."

Jamaican Olympic Association head Mike Fennell has accused Dr Wright of "being dramatic," however.

"I think that's massively overstating it," Fennell said. "There's no evidence to suggest that it's the tip of the iceberg."

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