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Asafa says anti-doping body drawing too much blood- Jamaican Athletes targeted by WADA

Posted by Dresonic on August 13, 2008

Page_2 JAMAICA IS among the top countries being subjected to numerous drug tests by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) at the Beijing Olympics currently under way in China, team doctor Herb Elliott says.

However, despite concerns raised by former 100-metre record holder Asafa Powell, Elliott told The Gleaner yesterday that he believed the testing was in keeping with what is going on at the Games.

“A number of teams have been targeted and our team is one of the better teams,” Elliott, who is also a member of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) Anti-Doping Committee, said while explaining why the Jamaican athletes were among the frequently-tested groups.

“Naturally we are in for more testing than what normally happens at most Olympic Games,” he added.

Elliott confirmed that somewhere in the region of 30 tests had so far been carried out in the Jamaican camp. Some athletes, he said, had been tested three or four times since the Games began four days earlier.

The team doctor said he was told by a reliable source that all the top teams had been targeted.

“They want this Olympics to be a good one,” he said.

Asafa Powell, the former world record holder and one of the island’s top athletes at the Games, said yesterday that he believed the authorities were overdoing the testing.

Lot of blood

“About two days ago, I got pretty upset because since I’ve been here they have tested me four times and took blood, a lot of blood,” Powell said during a news conference at which Nike unveiled the ‘Zoom Aerofly’ spikes he will be wearing in his attempt to win the 100-metre title.

He told reporters he believed he might not have anything left in him by the time the 100m starts on Friday.

“I’m saying that they are taking so much blood, we are going to be very weak before the final of the 100m,” he said.

Powell also confirmed team-mates Michael Frater and world record holder Usain Bolt have also been heavily tested.

However, yesterday physician and sport analyst Dr Paul Wright said frequent tests would not harm the athletes’ physical health.

“It will have absolutely no effect on the physical well being in regards to blood volume,” Wright said.

“If you are taking a blood test, you can lose blood by the amount of blood that they use. The amount of blood that they take for this test is of absolutely no significance in the overall blood volume of the athlete.”

Wright, however, noted that frequent testing might increase the psychological pressure on the athlete.

“It makes you feel targeted. You begin to feel fed up and frustrated,” he said.

Wright added that “it is bordering on harassment” and that “the pressure is mounting on Jamaica because of how fast our athletes are”.

Superb performances

There have been several questions in recent months about the superb performances of Jamaican athletes.

Adrian Lorde, head of the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organisation, recently lambasted Jamaica for not doing enough doping tests.

Just days before the Jamaica team was scheduled to leave for China, sprinter Julien Dunkley returned a positive test at the national trials and was omitted from the roster.

Two other Jamaicans, Patrick Jarrett and Steve Mullings have failed drug tests in recent years. Jarrett failed a steroids test in 2001 and Steve Mullings tested positive for testosterone in 2004.

Jamaica performs its own drug testing and Mike Fennell, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, has said that Dunkley’s positive testing was an indication that the system works.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said approximately 4,500 drug tests will be conducted at the Beijing Games and IOC President Jacques Rogge has said he expects about 40 positive results.

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