A story in the Jamaica Observer today looks at the prominent Jamaican athletes busted for drugs. From the piece, one can read Jamaica is proud of the Olympic heritage (Update, Usian Bolt sets two world records at the Beijing 2008 Olympics)
Despite being a small island, Jamaica regularly gets more Olympic medals than countries many times its size and wealth. Jamaica has produced this year's four fastest women at 200 metres, four of the top six at 100 metres and the fastest man in both events in the sensational Usain Bolt. But modern athletics has been overshadowed by doping scandals, and even Jamaica is not free of suspicion.
Jamaica's prowess in athletics is no recent phenomenon. In 1948, Arthur Wint won Jamaica's first Olympic gold medal in the 400 metres. Herb McKenley won four medals from 1948 to 1952, and the incomparable Merlene Ottey won nine medals from 1980 to 2000.
However the drug-cheats abound on the island:
The list of those barred from competing is long and includes Jamaica-born sprinters who trained elsewhere, for example Ben Johnson in Canada, Linford Christie and Dwain Chambers in England. Jerome Young and Patrick Jarrett (who were coached in the United States by another Jamaican expatriate Trevor Graham) also fell foul of the authorities. Merlene Ottey failed a steroid test in 1999, while training in Europe. But this was later ruled a laboratory error. Patrick Jarrett failed a steroids test in 2001 and Steve Mullings tested positive for testosterone in 2004.
Trevor Graham (a 1988 relay silver medallist for Jamaica) started a track camp in North Carolina featuring Marion Jones, who had passed more than 160 drug tests before finally acknowledging steroid use. In San Francisco in May, Graham was convicted on one felony count of lying to federal agents and awaits sentencing September 5.
Marion Jones is due to be released from prison in September after serving a six-month sentence for lying to federal investigators.
Other Jamaican stars, including Asafa Powell's older brother Donovan, have tested positive for stimulants.
There are drug and PED testing difficulties in Jamaica, which lead to skepticism. However, the Jamaican athletes will be soon be showcased in Beijing. Interesting to see what will follow on and off the track.
The problem is that Jamaica is not a signatory to the Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) and has not yet set up its own national anti-doping agency.
However, Jamaica Olympic Association boss Mike Fennell and Dr Herb Elliot have refuted recent criticisms that Jamaica is not doing enough testing. In fact, Mr Fennell last week revealed that 90 drug tests were carried out in Jamaica since the start of the year with another six done out of competition.
In addition, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) does come to Jamaica and tests its athletes regularly. Despite all this, sceptics insist that Jamaican athletes are less likely to be tested out of season than others, that some local officials may collude with athletes to protect them from visiting testers, and that illegal stimulants either do not show up in tests or disappear from the bloodstream in a matter of weeks.