Botswana is reportedly not making any significant headway in its attempt to establish National Anti Doping (NADO) structures.
This is despite the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC)’s attesting that the country is making strides to deal with doping.
According to sources within the BNOC, while the country has ensured that education and testing is done on athletes, the country is however slow in establishing proper structures to deal with the issue.
While the BNOC has been quick to point out to the establishment of a local NADO as testimony to their commitment to anti doping issues, sources say BONADO, as the local NADO is commonly known, is walking on its last legs.
Tired of being an interim committee with no legal authority since BONADO was established, members are said to be ready to quit.
Chairperson of BONADO, Refilwe Segokgo, is already said to be inactive.
“The problem is that members feel the BNOC is not taking the issue of anti doping seriously. This has gone on for so long that the chairperson has retired from BONADO. At the moment, only two members of the committee are fully active,” the source said. Contacted for comment, the BNOC said that as far as they know, BONADO is still intact and its Chairperson has not retired.
“Ms. Segokgo is still the chairperson. She has neither resigned nor been recalled by the BNOC from the Interim Committee,” read the response.
Pressed to clarify whether she is still active and if so to reveal when she last attended any meeting or event relating to anti doping issues or BONADO in particular, the BNOC said they cannot comment as the issue was internal.
Contacted for comment, Segokgo confirmed that while she has “not technically retired” as the BONADO Chairperson, she has not been active for over a year now.
Segokgo said that having been a chairperson of the interim BONADO since its inception, she had now come to the realization that “there is no will on the part of powers that be to make a permanent anti doping structure”.
She said as an interim committee since BONADO’s inception, they have been pushing for a fully fledged committee but all to no avail.
“Being an interim committee means that we are just there to make the numbers but we cannot make any substantial decisions. All that we do is to test and educate athletes and we have no legal standing whatsoever to handle issues of anti doping,” Segokgo explained.
She said with the situation as it is, there is no room for BONADO to be independent and to have its structures to enhance its functionality.
In view of this lack of progress, she decided to stop being active, something which the BNOC is aware of.
Should BONADO be made independent with its own disciplinary and appeal boards, it will be responsible for adjudicating issues relating to doping.
Asked on how empowered BONADO is on issues of doping, the BNOC said BONADO is a substructure with no legal authority.
“In respect of Anti Doping issues in Botswana, the BNOC is the legal authority at the moment. As a result, it is the BNOC that has all the degree of authority and autonomy as provided in the World Anti Doping Code. The Intern NADO is a substructure (without legal authority) of the BNOC which implements programmes on behalf of and advises the BNOC with respect to Anti Doping Issues,” the BNOC explained.
Quizzed on how long it would be before proper anti doping structures are in place, the BNOC said processes to set up NADO have been initiated.
“It should be borne in mind that NADOs are generally established through Acts of Parliament, and they need resources to be fully operational. Consequently, the Government of Botswana will set up a NADO as soon as she is ready to provide the necessary resources,” the BNOC said.
However, according to a leading sports administrator who commented on condition of anonymity, the problem is intensified by the power play going on in the local sports.
He said the BNOC wants to be in control of every aspect of sport in the country and as such would not like to empower any other structures.
With the BNOC still seeking to play both player and referee at the same time, no significant progress should be expected, he said.
The source said as such, when issues like the current one when a local athlete test positive emerge, only then does the BNOC realize they cannot play an active role to help the athlete as it now has to assume the role of a NADO.
Responding on how it deals with athletes who test positive for a banned substances, the BNOC said the issue will be referred to the Regional Anti Doping Organisation (RADO) for assistance.
“In the event that the RADO would not be in a position to assist for any reason, the BNOC has an understanding with the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS), to whom such issues would be referred,” the BNOC responded.