Minister of Sport, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (FP)??

Barbadians have been given the assurance that this country is committed to the regional anti-doping fight.

That is the promise from Minister of Sport, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who said the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) had added an important dimension to the sporting infrastructure in the region.

"This is necessary as we continue to develop Barbados and the region as premier destinations for sports tourism," Dr. Byer Suckoo stated.

She made the comments today at the opening of a two-day workshop to train 40 Doping Control Officers at Tamarind Cove Hotel, St. James. The exercise is being facilitated by Caribbean RADO and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Noting that the seminar was quite timely, as the Caribbean prepares for a number of major games in 2010, she pointed out that the region was positioning itself to host many more championships, as it expanded its sports tourism portfolio.

"However, this workshop is not just about expanding the capacity of our Doping Control Officers, but ensuring our readiness to meet the challenges presented by these world-class events. We are, therefore, relying on you to maintain the integrity of these games and the credibility of the Caribbean as host of such world-class events," she told her audience.

Dr. Byer Suckoo encouraged the participants to focus on the positive impact a doping free sporting environment would have on the competitiveness in sports, the health of athletes, and the development of the youth, who were looking to the elite athletes as role models.

The Minister congratulated WADA on reaching its 10th anniversary, stating that its invaluable contribution to the formation of RADO was greatly appreciated. She later presented WADA’s Manager, Programme Development, Tom May, with a plaque.

In his presentation, Mr. May said the first RADO training was conducted in 2006 in Grenada and it had a significant impact on the officers.

He disclosed that the feedback received from international federations and organisations on the testing and education programmes had been tremendous. "Everybody is very satisfied with the progress being made and we hope that this [training] will continue that success and recognition worldwide," he stated.

Chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, Steve Stoute, called on regional governments to play a bigger role in funding RADO, especially since the Commonwealth Secretariat funding had expired. "We cannot let the excellent work done by [Regional Administrator of Caribbean RADO] Neil Murrell, and [Chairman] Dr. Adrian Lorde and the regional RADO to go to waste," Mr. Stoute warned.

He added that it was heartening that the region was embracing the RADO initiatives and announced that Kristy Dickenson of Antigua was the first person from the Caribbean to be selected as a Doping Control Officer for the 2010 Winter Olympics scheduled for Vancouver.

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