Increased collaboration needed to strengthen regional doping fight – Banka
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Witold Banka says that increased cooperation between Caribbean nations will be critical to improving the standards of anti-doping policies in the region with Jamaica as a good resource.
Banka was speaking at a press conference yesterday after participating in the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s annual two-day symposium which started on Thursday and involved sports ministers from the region.
Banka said given the testing protocols as well as the education drive, the country can be a model for other countries to use but stressed the importance of joint efforts to collectively raise the standards of the region.
“When you look at the testing figures and the education in some countries, I think there is room for improvement. I think countries from the Caribbean can work with Jamaica. I think it is all about collaboration. Without support from the respective governments, we are not able to achieve our mission. So we have to collaborate,” Banka said.
While not giving a specific time frame, Banka said that there have been set targets that the nations have agreed to improve. These include increasing the education campaigns as well as the testing framework for countries. He hopes that the yearly symposium will be used as a reference point to see progress with a commitment that resources will be made available for governments to make those changes.
“We have established goals for them. We will make it a short timeline for them. First, they have to start their testing programmes, they have to start training and they have to launch the steps to set up their organisation,” Banka said. “Some countries have low regulations and that is why the goal is to get them to start. They have to use the tools that are offered by WADA. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us. But the goal of the forum was to encourage the ministers from the Caribbean region to do more. We presented some solutions to the ministers of sport on how to strengthen the collaboration between the countries and to do more.”
Banka’s praise for Jamaica’s anti-doping programme comes amid scrutiny following last year’s incident at the Carifta Games where Jamaica’s 42.58 seconds clocking at the Carifta Games World Under-20, at the time breaking the world record, was not ratified because a member of the team was not tested after the race
However, Sports Minister Olivia Grange gave the vote of confidence to the JADCO executive body led by chairman Alexander Williams and stands by the work done in the fight against doping in sports.
“It doesn’t mean that we are perfect and at times, as we say in Jamaica, we ‘buck our toes’. But we are able to by and large be compliant to ensure that the legislative framework is put in place. We continue to increase our testing pool. We continue to intensify our public education programme. We have certainly ensured that the relationship with our athletes is cordial and professional,” Grange said. “They are not scared of JADCO, in fact, they reach out to JADCO because they want to be compliant. Yes, we want to catch the cheats but we want to prevent, by and large, our athletes from cheating.”