KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica government says it is considering new laws to tackle the illegal importation of banned substances as the country continues its effort to recover from the doping scandal that has tainted the island’s athletics program.
The minister with responsibility for sports, Natalie Neita Headley, made the announcement in Parliament Tuesday night amid an increase in the number of Jamaican athletes testing positive for banned substances.
“Legislation is being considered to address the illegal importation of banned supplements,” Neita Headley told Parliament.
“Let me admonish coaches, administrators and athlete-support personnel that they are equally culpable if they are found guilty of providing banned substances to junior athletes.”
Top Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson were among those who tested positive for an illegal substance last year.
They have both appealed their suspensions and have since been allowed to compete pending the outcome of the appeal hearing.
Powell’s case will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 7 and 8.
“Sport supplements have also been found to contain ingredients that are not stated on labels and some have been linked to the cause of death among athletes worldwide,” the minister said.
“Given the recent increase in the number of Jamaican athletes who returned adverse analytical findings in the last year, I must take this opportunity to once again encourage our athletes, juniors and seniors, to avoid adopting this trend of reliance on supplements and to focus instead on building a diet based on good nutrition and healthy practices.”
Neita Headley told the parliament that to help athletes sidestep problems associated with the use of supplements, the 2013 list of banned drugs was produced in late March with 1,000 copies printed and 500 copies distributed to clubs and federations.
A medical declaration card was created and 150 copies were printed for distribution to the athletes who were selected for the 2013 IAAF World championships.
A partnership has been established with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the Jamaica Anti- Doping Commission to help Jamaica’s anti-doping program meet the full requirements of the 2015 world anti-doping code by January 1 next year.
“Many of our athletes are using supplements as part of their training or competition routines,” said Neita Headley.
“This practice may stem from the belief that a normal diet is not sufficient for optimum performance. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for good nutrition and a balanced diet.”