Elliott said the crop of five Jamaican athletes have been notified of the positive test results and have been asked if they want a further test to be done. So far, the commission has not heard from anyone, he said, noting that an investigation is ongoing.
“We have stated it more than once that the supplements are not regulated and they should not be taken. They should only take vitamins that are approved,” Elliott told the Miami Herald.
Jamaica, despite its size and huge financial problems, takes anti-doping measures seriously and has instituted “a rigorous program,” Elliott said. The latest development, while not a welcoming one, is proof that the country does test its athletes, he said.
“We are not going to hide anything,” he said.
Still, the development has plunged Jamaica in unfamiliar territory — and how it emerges will depend on how the crisis is managed, observers say.
“You have to admit that it does not at all look good for the brand especially for a country that catapulted ourselves basically into the global limelight,” said Mugisa of the Jamaica Star. “It’s a major worry.”
Olympic medalist and sports analyst Ato Boldon said “it’s up to Jamaica whether Jamaica suffers any long-term damage from all this.”
Still, Boldon concedes that having a top-athlete like Powell be among those facing a ban is a huge blow. Lauded long before Bolt became an international sensation, Powell represents a turning point in Jamaican track and field history, that period when the country went from good to great. He was the last person to hold the men’s 100-meter world record before Usain Bolt broke it in 2008. He also helped Jamaica win Olympic gold that same year in the 4x100-meter relay.
“Prior to Asafa, everybody would have to leave Jamaica for a U.S. university and you went back home to perform for Jamaica. He stayed home,” Boldon said. “The fact that Asafa is homegrown is significant.”
Powell issued a lengthy statement after the news of his positive test, saying he had “never knowingly or willfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules.” Blame was immediately shifted to Xuereb, who trains both Powell and Simpson.
Boldon, who is Trinidadian, said while he found Powell’s statements “very passionate and very good,” in the end, “everybody in sports knows that you are ultimately responsible for what goes into your body.”