We will adjust for COVID vaccine – JADCO
Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) Chairman Alexander Williams says that they will adjust their approach to any potential adverse findings resulting from athletes who are administered the COVID-19 vaccine. With four months to go before the...
Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) Chairman Alexander Williams says that they will adjust their approach to any potential adverse findings resulting from athletes who are administered the COVID-19 vaccine.
With four months to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan has already begun their vaccination programme, with Jamaica now expected to receive their shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine, donated by the Government of India, next Monday, a delay from yesterday’s original delivery date.
Athletes’ reaction to taking the vaccine has been mixed, with Yohan Blake recently indicating that he would rather miss his final opportunity at the Olympics than take the vaccine, despite it not being a requirement by the International Olympic Committee.
National swimmer Michael Gunning, who took the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recently, has, however, encouraged others to get vaccinated.
With various vaccination options available, Williams said that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has given them guidance regarding Pfizer,with whom he says WADA has a memorandum of understanding, and stated that the vaccine presented no issues.
However, he said that in the unlikely event that an adverse analytical finding is detected because of the vaccine, they would adjust their policy accordingly.
“WADA did not give us any specific guidelines for specific brands of vaccines, separate and apart from the Pfizer vaccine. But what they have said is, generally, at this point in time, they don’t see an issue with it,” Williams told The Gleaner. “And they did say to us that if it becomes, the word that they used is ‘problematic’, then they would advise us, and we would have to adjust how we approach anti-doping rule violations accordingly.”
WADA recently released their question-and-answer document for athletes on COVID-19, which indicates that they recommend athletes take the vaccine to protect themselves and the wider population. Additionally, they said that the vaccines are “not known to interfere with anti-doping analysis or contain any substance or method on the Prohibited List”.
In maintaining their anti-doping duties, Williams said that they are continuing their normal practice but anticipates possible WADA adjustments, should opinion on the vaccine change.
“We are to continue in the individual way in how we do our tests, and from what I gather from WADA is that if it comes up that there is an anti-doping result violation (ADR) and it turns out that the substance can be shown that it is a result of using the vaccine, WADA would then guide us as to how to proceed,” Williams said. “Reading between the lines, it seems to me that they would decline to proceed with the ADR in such a situation.”
Meanwhile, Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda said that while they are encouraging their athletes to get vaccinated, he is charging them to get the necessary medical advice to guide their decision.
“We at the executive body are making available whatever medical knowledge or experience that we have so that athletes can make an informed choice,” Samuda said. “We are encouraging them to go to their personal physician to [get] advice and counsel as to whether they, in regard to their medical history, should be able to take the vaccine and would not be at risk.”
However, in the event that vaccination becomes mandatory to participate in the Tokyo Olympics, Samuda says that it would be a personal decision for the athlete to either comply or miss the Games.