As athletes around the world observed Play True Day yesterday, the head of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee’s Anti Doping Organisation said the body was looking to boost the number of tests it did locally.
Play True Day is a day designated by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) so that athletes everywhere can be reminded and encouraged that they can perform well by remaining drug free and competing intelligently and that the playing field remains even.
The Day involved public messages being sent by high-profile international athletes via Whatsapp or video messaging.
But Dr Terry Ali, chairman of the TTOC’s Anti Doping Organisation said: “We are encouraging all athletes to just send in a statement or a video about themselves doing something in sport like training with a statement “I support Play True” to the Trinidad and Tobago Anti Doping Organisation (via the TTOC website).”
Dr Ali said that, “all countries who are affiliated to WADA, they have a programme of drug testing and drug awareness so that they enforce drug testing programmes and drug education programmes for their country so that all athletes are aware that drug testing is of significance.”
T&T does not currently have its own drug-testing facility.
“It’s expensive, it’s a specialised lab and it has to be WADA approved, and this approval is an on-going approval,”Dr Ali said.
However, he added that testing is still done here.
“We have a programme where we will collect samples and then we will send it overseas to a WADA recognised lab,” he added.
Asked whether he felt enough testing was done locally, Dr Ali said: “There is always room for increased numbers of testing, but national anti doping organisations have to be compliant with WADA and we work out together a test distribution plan (TDP) every year looking at the high risk, medium risk and low risk sports—sports with different degrees of risk of using doping methods.
Asked how much testing was done locally, Dr Ali said the numbers would increase in 2020.
“Last year we did 49-50 tests across all sports, and this year we are planning to do 100. These tests would be at national and international level and cover sports like track and field, hockey, football, badminton, volleyball, shooting and swimming.
Asked whether the figure of 100 tests was low, Dr Ali said the local Anti Doping Organisation gets additional testing support.
“We work together with RADO—the Regional Anti Doping Organisation and they will do certain sports like cricket, so we will not have to do cricket,” he said.
And in general, Dr Ali said the knowledge of athletes in T&T on doping issues was increasing.
“If you look at all our major athletes,” he said, “they are based abroad and whatever college or whatever country they are in, either college or clubs go through programmes with them. Their knowledge about prohibited substances, prohibited methods and what is a positive analytical and non-analytical rule violation is developing, they are asking questions.”
“For our younger athletes in Trinidad and Tobago, we have started a national programme of education (early last year) and we’ve been running it intermittently with National Sporting Organisations (NSOs), and as part of the TTOC developmental programme,” he added.