Jamaican Track and Field Feeling Heat

Lapses in drug testing fuel suspicion about Usain Bolt and others.

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Usain Bolt (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The Associated Press is reporting that the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission has officially been audited by the World Anti-Doping Agency because of inconsistent out-of-competition drug testing in the months leading up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Jamaica's Olympic athletes dominated their competition, specifically in track and field, in which the island's star runner, Usain Bolt, won gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter races, becoming the first athlete to do so at consecutive games (he first accomplished the feat in the 2008 Beijing Olympics).

The audit was prompted after Sports Illustrated published an article by former JADCO Executive Director Renee Anne Shirley in August. Shirley called out her former colleagues, accusing them of not doing enough testing, specifically in the five months leading up to the London Games in July 2012. She wrote:

The current program -- while improved -- makes a mockery of Jamaica's posturing and flames suspicion more than it douses it. Between the time Between the time the current board was appointed, in February 2012, and the start of the London Olympics late last July, out-of-date testing kits and limited staffing resources resulted in a total of one out-of-competition test. 

Dr. Herbert Elliott, who was Jamaica's team doctor at the London Games and is the chairman of JADCO, called Shirley a traitor and a liar. "Ms. Shirley has done this country and herself a great deal of harm by saying things that are not totally in keeping with the truth," he said. 

Other parties involved with oversight are also quick to defend JADCO. The International Olympic Committee said the lack of out-of-competition testing isn't unique to Jamaica. "Jamaica is far from being alone, you know?" said IOC Medical Commission Chairman Arne Ljungqvist. "We know that out-of-competition testing in the proper way is not being conducted unfortunately in many parts of the world. One shouldn't single out Jamaica."

But in an interview with the Associated Press, Shirley reiterated her disappointment with the commission's efforts and maintained that her former colleagues could have done more. "It's almost abnormal, OK? Let's face it. For a country of less than 3 million people. What, you're saying there's something peculiar in the water in Jamaica?"

Of course, with the audit will come a focus on Bolt. Former Olympic track star Carl Lewis made similar accusations about Jamaica's drug-testing procedures last year after Bolt's historic performances. But even Shirley says Bolt was tested rigorously:

"I'm pretty sure that all of the athletes who went to London were tested at least once and the majority of them more than once," she told the AP.

 On Bolt, specifically, she added: "I am positive that he got tested in double figures" in 2012.

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