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Entire Jamaican anti-doping board resigns

(Reuters) - The entire board of the controversial Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) has resigned, the country's minister with responsibility for sport said on Friday.

"The Commissioners have taken a decision, in the national interest and in order to facilitate the re-structuring of JADCO, to tender their resignations which will take effect on December 31, 2013," Natalie Neita Headley said in a statement released in Kingston.

The commission has been under fire since former senior JADCO official Renee Anne Shirley told Sports Illustrated in August the authority had carried out just one out-of-competition test from February 2012 to the start of the London Olympics in July.

Three high-ranking officials of the World Anti-Doping Agency visited Jamaica last month to audit the country's anti-doping programs after weeks of criticism following positive tests from several high-profile athletes.

Former world 100 meters record holder Asafa Powell, twice 200m Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and London Games 4x100m relay silver medalist Sherone Simpson all failed drug tests and were left out of Jamaica's athletics team for the world championships in August.

Outgoing WADA President John Fahey had suggested the Caribbean nation could face severe penalties if they were declared non-compliant with the WADA code.

But Neita Headley said, "At no time has WADA ever deemed Jamaica or JADCO to be non-compliant.

"At no time has WADA threatened to bar Jamaica or Jamaican athletes from participating in any international event — Olympic Games, World Championship or the like."

Triple world champion Usain Bolt said last week the misinformation of Jamaica not being eligible for the 2016 Olympics because of the anti-doping problems had cost him a potential sponsor and left him unhappy.

The IAAF athlete of the year urged officials to quickly resolve the problems.

Neita Headley, who attended the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this month, said the Jamaican government was in a process of identifying the next steps to implement the recommendations that have been made to improve operations of our anti-doping agency.

"Quite recently, JADCO's Commissioners met and acknowledged that there is a public perception of the existence of conflicts of interests among some of the members of the Commission," she said.

The Office of the Prime Minister has commenced a review of the current Anti-doping legislation with a view to strengthening the act and ensuring it is in keeping with best practices and the WADA Code, she said.

"We have accepted an invitation from WADA for the new (JADCO) executive director to visit its offices in Canada during the week of December 16," Neita Headley added.

"He will also visit the WADA accredited laboratory in Montreal and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport with a view to establishing a Cooperative Partnership between JADCO and this National Anti-Doping Organization.

"We are also continuing to take the necessary steps to ensure that all our athletes — young and old, and all persons who form part of our athletes' support teams - coaches, agents, managers, therapists, and others, all have full access to doping-related information through structured training programs and the use of information technology.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Julian Linden)

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