By Gene Cherry
(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is planning a special visit to Jamaica next year following concerns over the Caribbean island's anti-doping programs.
"WADA has accepted an invitation from the Prime Minister of Jamaica to visit and inspect JADCO (the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission)," WADA said in a statement to Reuters on Monday.
The visit follows comments by former JADCO Executive Director Renee Anne Shirley that there had been a significant gap in out-of competition testing by JADCO in the months prior to the 2012 London Olympics, where Jamaican sprinters were dominant.
Later on Monday, Jamaican anti-doping sources told Reuters that Jamaican taekwondo Olympian Kenneth Edwards had tested positive for a banned diuretic during an out-of-competition test carried out by JADCO.
Edwards, 27, who won the heavyweight bronze medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2010, is the eighth Jamaican to test positive for a banned substance this year.
Former world 100 meters record holder Asafa Powell, twice 200 meters Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and London Games 4x100 relay silver medalist Sherone Simpson are among the other offenders.
WADA had hoped to make the inspection this year but "was unhappy to learn that JADCO cannot accommodate this visit until 2014," the anti-doping agency said.
JADCO chairman Herb Elliott declined to comment on the visit.
"I will not speak on the matter until after I've spoken with (director general) David Howman of WADA", Elliott told Reuters.
The sport's world governing body said it was not concerned about the WADA visit or the testing of Jamaican athletes, including six times Olympic champion and double sprint world record holder Usain Bolt who has never failed a doping test.
"It is abundantly clear that the testing of Jamaican athletes before London was extensive and thorough - and continues to be so today," International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) spokesman Chris Turner said in an email to Reuters.
Turner said in 2012 Jamaica had 19 athletes in the IAAF registered testing pool (RTP) who were tested 126 times, an average of 6.63 tests for each athlete.
By comparison, 43 U.S. athletes in the 2012 pool were tested 222 times, an average of 5.16.
"Incidentally, Usain Bolt is one of the most tested athletes in the RTP and under the jurisdiction of the IAAF was tested over a dozen times in and out of competition in 2012." Turner said.
Including all tests under the IAAF's jurisdiction, 37 Jamaican athletes were tested out of competition by the IAAF in 2012, Turner said, "a robust and comprehensive program which concentrated on training camps and accounted for every top international athlete from that country".
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina, additional reporting by Kayon Raynor in Kingston; Editing by John Mehaffey)