By Sherrylyn A. Toppin

WITH HALF OF ITS member countries finding difficulty in paying their subscription fees, the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) is facing some tough challenges in continuing the fight against doping in sports.

“RADO faces a critical juncture at this point in time due to financial challenges,” executive director Tessa Chaderton-Shaw told NATIONSPORT in an interview yesterday.

“All countries which have signed on to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code have a financial obligation to pay WADA as part of a global initiative, but Caribbean member countries are also part of RADO.

“Given the economic crisis before us, this presents a challenge for all countries in the Caribbean region.”

RADO is the umbrella body for the region’s anti-doping agencies.  Chaderton-Shaw would not say which of the 15 countries were the main defaulters or how much revenue RADO had lost.

She made a presentation to the region’s ministers of Sport last week at the 17th Special Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (Sport) that was held in Guyana.

The presentation was well received and the ministers agreed there needed to be greater awareness and heightening of the activities in the fight against performance enhancing drugs.

Chaderton-Shaw said RADO had to be very prudent in its spending, but would not compromise on education and drug-testing.

WADA mandated five out-of-competition tests for each member country in the Caribbean, but according to her, it wasn’t feasible because of the costs.

Out-of-competition tests cost $800 each while in-competition tests are slightly cheaper.

55 tests

The numbers for this year were not available as testing continues, but Chaderton-Shaw said 55 tests were conducted across the region last year.  All were negative and “some of them would be the region’s top names”.

“Every time that you hear that somebody has been found positive, it is a sobering reminder that we can’t play dead and think that it isn’t happening in this region. I do believe that more work can be done,” she said.

“Hearing that there are negatives sometimes sends a message of complacency where some are of the belief that there are no positive tests so this is not an issue. That is what concerns me the most. There has to be a continuous prevention programme –prevention and deterrence.”

She said the 53 doping control officers across the Caribbean – 12 in Barbados – were RADO’s best kept secret. They had to be trained to very high standards and three of them worked at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“Education is key.  Some people are of the view that, ‘I just have to get a sample of urine’, but they don’t realize there are certain protocols that have to be observed. We have to see the athlete actually urinating in the sample collection cup.

“There is documentation.  There is a lot of due diligence.  It has to be a very meticulous process because if it is challenged legally, a case can be thrown out.”

Chaderton-Shaw also lauded her predecessors, Dr. Adrian Lorde and Neil Murrell, who were pioneers in the region’s anti-doping fight.

Recently, RADO also condemned the “sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping programme” led by Lance Armstrong and his teammates from the USPS Pro-Cycling team, saying it should serve as a “wake-up call” for all stakeholders to continue education and testing.