In the wake of escalating reports of doping around the world, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has set up a national medical committee that will monitor local football players. BFA Vice President (VP)-Administration, Basadi Akoonyatse said in an interview that although doping is not as rampant in football as in other sport codes, the Association found it fit to institute the national medical committee.
“The committee is headed by Dr. Lesedinyane Obuseng and will mainly advice the Association on medical health issues, including anti-doping initiatives,” she said.
She added that the committee has already conducted workshops for Premier League clubs to educate players and managers about the dangers of doping.
“The workshops are meant to encourage players to stay clean and refrain from using performance enhancing substances.”
The BFA and the BPL have also encouraged clubs to include professional medical personnel in their structures so they can deal with players on matter related to doping. Akoonyatse further encouraged players to feel free to approach the national medical committee for assistance on any medical related issues. Cognisant of the fact that national team players are usually under scrutiny when representing their countries in international events, the BFA has instructed the national medical committee to focus much on national teams by conducting regular tests and delivering relevant education on doping. One of the major challenges that the BFA is currently facing is the use of supplements by national team players. To tackle this problem, the BFA has instructed all players to declare their supplements and prescribed medicines whenever they report for national duty.
“Most national team players like using supplements and we found it fit to organise one-on-one consultations for them when they arrive for camp. This will enable national team doctors to ensure that they don’t use banned substances,” she said.
FIFA and the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) are affiliated to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and they commit to its principles and regulations; which bind them to take full responsibility of doping matters in football. The Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) is currently in charge of testing players at national level on behalf of the National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO).
“Our players are subjected to testing whenever they compete in CAF or FIFA tournaments. They have been tested a couple of times and fortunately none of them tested positive for any banned substances,” said Akoonyatse.
She stressed that the BFA is empowered to call up any player for testing at any given time; further warning that any player who is found to have taken any banned substance will face serious repercussions such as suspension from football activities.