The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has vowed to intensify anti doping tests and campaigns after two local athletes tested positive for banned substances during last years’ Rugby 7s Olympic qualifiers which were held in South Africa.
Speaking in an interview, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho said “athletes in the process of qualifying for major events like the Olympics as well as those who have already qualified will be subjected to rigorous tests to try curb doping violations.” He added: “We intend to conduct more unannounced tests on our athletes who are on the verge of qualifying and those who have already qualified to ensure that they are compliant to anti doping. This is over and above the normal routine tests that we carry out on all our athletes”.
According to Serufho, with the Rio 2016 Olympics now on the horizon, the BNOC has set aside a budget to deal with issues related to anti doping. The BNOC believes Botswana could come under more scrutiny after at least four athletes from the country tested positive for banned substances.
“Obviously, when a certain number of athletes from a country produce adverse analytical findings during tests, more scrutiny on the country will follow. As a matter of fact, some countries which have continued to have athletes testing positive have now developed bad reputations and therefore their athletes cannot escape being targeted for testing,” Serufho explained.
He however said given the low number of local athletes testing positive for banned substances as compared to other countries, it is not guaranteed that local athletes will be targeted.
“This however does not mean we have to rest on our laurels. We should not wait for more positive tests on our athletes before we act. What we need to do is to intensify our anti doping tests as well as anti doping education for our athletes at all levels,” Serufho explained.
He said the BNOC is advocating for the establishment of an independent National Anti Doping Organisation (NADO) to focus on issues relating to doping. Should this be established, said Serufho, it would help the BNOC focus on preparing teams and athletes for games while the NADO will take care of issues related to doping. In the meantime, Serufho said there is need for local athletes to abstain from using anything that may lead to anti doping violations.
“Athletes should know that they cannot test positive for eating their everyday food or drinks. What they should do is avoid using supplements or taking energy drinks as most of the banned substances are found in them,” he said.