Thursday, April 22, 2021

Botswana must do more to curb future anti doping violations

In the aftermath of two rugby players returning adverse analytical findings during the Olympic qualifiers, concerns have surfaced that the country is not doing much to curb anti doping violations. While local sporting mother bodies have been quick to point out that a lot is being done to address this issue, sources in the sporting fraternity have opined that the system is still lagging behind and this has resulted in non-compliancy by some athletes.

Some of the issues that need immediate attention include increasing manpower at Botswana’s interim NADO and elevating the body into an independent organization that can effectively deal with anti doping issues.

“While our sport is growing, both the BNOC and BNSC are not doing enough to ensure athletes are compliant to anti doping rules. Yes, they are trying but it is not enough,” a source said.

According to the source, it boggles the mind that while Botswana’s NADO was formed more than five years ago, it is still functioning as an interim NADO under the BNOC. He also said as an interim NADO, the organization cannot do much as it does not have the powers to ensure that the World Anti Doping Association (WADA) rules are effectively enforced even at local sports federation level.

Worse, the local NADO is short of manpower, with only one permanent officer, Ntebogang Khubamang manning its desk at the BNOC while the rest of its members are volunteers.

“This literally means we have only one person to deal with all anti doping issues in the country on a day to day basis while the rest of them are volunteers who are employed elsewhere,” the source explained.

While both the BNSC and the BNOC are quick to deny any rifts, another source said the fact that the two do not see eye to eye compounds issues even further.

“Even though they deny it, the BNSC is sidelining the BNOC and our local NADO most of the time when dealing with issues of anti doping and has always shown it prefers to work with the Regional Anti Doping Organisation (RADO) and this does not bode well for local sports. The RADO cannot do as much work as the NADO and if the two bodies could work together, we would be able to avoid future doping violations,” the source explained.

Reached for comment, the BNSC Chairperson, Solly Reikeletseng said contrary to what has been said the country is doing enough, adding that the current NADO is able to deal with issues of anti doping in the country.

“Whether we have one person or no one running the NADO office on permanent basis, the fact that we have a NADO is enough. Though it is run by volunteers, our NADO is doing a great job and is comparable with our sporting structure which is run by volunteers. Compared to other countries which we met during last year’s anti doping conference which I attended with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, we are doing very well as some of those countries do not have a NADO,” Reikeletseng said.

He added that as far as the BNSC is concerned, there is no need for the creation of an independent NADO, saying the available resources are not enough to provide for such. He further said to his knowledge, the local NADO has always worked well with sporting codes and local athletes on national duty and has tested and educated them on anti doping issues during their time in camp. Going forth, Reikeletseng said, priority should be given to educating athletes about anti doping from grassroots level.

“We have to teach them about all this while they are young so that they are aware of these issues from a young age and can stay disciplined during their careers,” the BNSC Chairperson concluded.

For his part, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho said while there is a need to step up on issues of anti doping, Botswana is not that far off behind. He said to their credit, the local NADO, though operating with volunteers, has managed to ensure local athletes are regularly tested as per WADA rules. He however concurred that there is a need for the creation of an independent NADO to fully focus on issues related to anti doping and free from the influence of BNOC. He said over the years, they had started negotiations with government for the creation of an independent NADO but financial problems halted the process. “The government was very receptive of the idea and was willing to help with such but due to the economic meltdown, we had to shelve the idea,” he explained.

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