Nothing has been more shocking over recent years in the sporting world than the revelations that Lance Armstrong’s incredible cycling successes were fuelled by drugs.
The American was a global super hero with numerous Tour De France wins, but it all came crashing down with an admission following years of rumours that he was using illegal performance enhancing products.
Jordan, like every country, has had its problems but an organisation set up through the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), has become a regional leader in ensuring ‘clean sport’ is played here.
The Jordan Anti-Doping Organisation (JADO) is headed by Dr. Kamal Al Hadidi who spoke exclusively to www.joc.jo about the relentless war on the drug cheats.
"Our main role is to make sure that Jordanian sport is free of drugs by applying international criteria through constant testing, awareness and education." said Dr. Hadidi.
JADO was established in 2008, prior to that doping was not a specific organisation’s responsibility leading to abuse. But not anymore.
With funding from the JOC following a direct request from President, HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, JADO has blitzed the sporting scene with random and regular testing (more than 150 last year) and is working closely with the Sports Medicine Federation to fight the issue on several fronts.
Seven years on and Dr. Hadidi said there are definite signs that they are winning the war through awareness programmes, communications, cooperation with sports federations and the support of the JOC.
"We carry out tests on athletes from all federations but put more focus on sports that traditionally attract doping according to the World Anti-Doping Agency," said Dr. Hadidi who added that the organisation is always looking at more ways of catching out the cheats.
“JADO will adopt a new vision in its work with smarter tests that can pick up a variety of drugs rather than having to carry out several tests on the same athlete. Jordan is one of the leading countries in the region that makes these tests.”
Dr Hadidi has praised the support from the federations who are working closely with JADO to clamp down; however there is still work to be done in expanding the tests to clubs and sports centres where there is still a flourishing trade for illegal substances like steroids.
“While we can work on a national and elite level, these places not currently regulated can be dangerous. But we will work hard to make Jordan a safe place and free of drug-use in sport.”
And Dr Hadidi believes Jordan should take a harsher line in clamping down by criminalising both the usage and the sale of illegal drugs used for performance enhancing.
The JOC has recently approved the Anti-Doping code for 2015 which has doubled punishments to four year competition bans and, more importantly, punishes the coach or trainer as well as anyone else proven to be involved. But Dr Hadidi believes prison terms should be considered.
JADO is working on one of the leading projects with UNESCO’s Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport which has two directions.
Firstly, it raises the awareness about the dangerous effects of doping on the community. In 2011-2012, 300 teachers were trained from across Jordan to qualify them to lecture students about doping.
The second direction is a partnership between JOC and 24 National Sports Federations to fight doping across all fronts with a united approach.
"There will be more projects and cooperation between JADO and many international organisations related to this issue in the future," said Dr. Hadidi. "We tell athletes that they shouldn’t trust any person about this subject. They shouldn’t take any medicine if they don’t have all the information about it because the law won't help them if they prove to have taken a banned substance. They are responsible for their own bodies.”
The war on doping in sport is seemingly endless but at least Jordan is leading the fight to send a clear message that it is simply not accepted, and those guilty will be punished.