Saturday, September 19, 2020

Botswana likely to be watched closely as IAAF eyes Federations

The success of Botswana’s athletes as well as the increase in doping cases may put Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) under the watchful eye of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

With the new anti doping rules which ‘make all of the IAAF Member Federations accountable on anti-doping matters’ coming into effect this coming year (2019), Botswana may find herself a victim of her own successes and failures.

Under the new regulations which were adopted this year, while anti-doping rule violations will continue to apply to individuals, Member Federations will however now ‘have obligations that apply to them as organisations’ and failure to comply will have consequences for federations.

Among others, ‘a member federation must not bring the sport into disrepute in relation to doping; and must not act negligently in relation to the risk of doping,’ ‘must conduct due diligence in relation to Athlete Support Persons they engage’ and ‘must keep a proper record of medical treatments and supplements it administers to athletes.’

Under the newly adopted framework, the AIU will put the IAAF member federations into one of three categories, called Group A, B and C.

According to the new framework, ‘this decision will be based on specified criteria which balances identified doping risk and the amount of international success enjoyed by the Federation.’

“While decisions on categorisation are still to be made, as a guide: Category A will be the smallest category including the previous “watch list” Federations; Category B will be the Federations who have international-level success in Athletics; and  Category C will be the largest group with containing smaller Federations with limited international success in Athletics,” so reads AIU press release.

Reached for comment on the matter, BAA Vice President Kenneth Kikwe said due ‘to Botswana’s success in the world athletics, there is no doubt that the country, just like other successful countries,’ will be keenly watched.

“While no categorisation has been made yet, I strongly believe that due to the successes we have had and the quality of our athletes, we are highly likely to be in the most watched countries,” he warned.

Kikwe opined that with Botswana almost in the same level with the best countries and given the country’s now storied cases of doping, the country must be very careful when dealing with issues of doping.

The BAA Vice President said already, there are signs that Botswana’s athletes are highly recognised as they are now being sent international doping officers to conduct their testing.

“If you look at our recent case of athlete doping, the athlete was caught by doping officers who had been sent to do tests here in Botswana by the IAAF and not by our own local doping officers. That just shows how watched our athletes may be due to their successes,” he said.

The same sentiments were echoed by former BAA Secretary General Legojane Kebaitse, who opined that ‘because of athlete-population ratio, the calibre of athletes the country produces and its successes,’ the country must be very careful.

Kebaitse also concurred that the continued violation of doping regulations by local athletes may also contribute to Botswana being placed among countries keenly watched by the AIU.

Going forward, both Kikwe and Kebaitse said the BAA should work hard to ensure they comply with the IAAF rules on anti doping to ensure they are not sanctioned.

As per the new rules, the AIU will have ‘the power to investigate Federations for breaches of the new obligations, require Federations to co-operate with any investigation and monitor compliance with the Rules.’

“If a Federation is in breach, the AIU Board may either give the Federation an opportunity to achieve compliance or refer the matter to the IAAF Council with a recommendation.”

“The IAAF Council will have broad powers to deal with any Federation that is in breach of their obligations including fines, suspensions or warnings.”

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