Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Botswana steps up anti doping campaigns

The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), through its Interim Anti Doping Committee, has stepped up its effort to ensure the sport remains clean and in compliance with the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) policies on preventing doping in sport.

The BNOC has now vowed to carry out the Out of Competition testing of athletes, something which will see local athletes being subjected to testing for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) at any given time. Under the Out of Competition anti doping policy, athletes are obliged to be subjected to testing at any given day or time without being given any prior notice.

To ensure this process is a success, just this past Thursday, the BNOC added six new members to its Doping Control Officers (DCO’s) to bring the total number of such officers to ten (10).

Speaking in an interview, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho said the intention of increasing the number of such officers is to ensure that the country adheres to stringent measures when it comes to curbing doping in sport.

“As Botswana, we are bound by WADA code to do certain things for our sport to be compliant to anti doping. These measures are educating our athletes on doping related issues, assisting with testing of athletes for performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) as well as administering the results,” the BNOC CEO said.

According to Serufho, while the country has done well in some aspects of complying like educating athletes as well as testing them during competitions, it has, however, been lagging behind in other aspects such as out of competition testing.

He says as a signatory to the 2003 Copenhagen Declaration Against Doping in Sport as well as having ratified the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) International Convention Against Doping in Sport, the country is duty-bound to root out doping in sport.
According to the BNOC CEO, with local athletes now performing well on the international arena, it is imperative that the country enforces anti doping policies to ensure that local athletes are clean.

“By testing our athletes and ensuring they are clean, we will be protecting the athletes and their integrity as well as ensuring that the country’s reputation is protected. Testing them will also make them get used to being subjected to such tests during big competitions and that will ensure they are not intimidated or scared when that happens,” the BNOC CEO added.

According to Serufho, the move will also ensure that local athletes are in future not barred from competing in international competitions due to the country’s non-compliance with WADA policies.
The latest step up of the testing campaign comes at a very good time as the country prepares for major competitions. Though the country has no reputation of athletes using PED’s, Botswana has already had an incident related to such.

Last year, the country’s 800 metres runner, Onalenna Baloyi, was slapped with a two year ban by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) for testing positive for testing for EPD’s. Serufho says while there is a possibility that local athletes may have used PED’s either knowingly or inadvertently, the enhancement of anti doping policies will ensure that local athletes adhere to the notion of fair play in sport and situations similar to that of Baloyi are avoided.
On what took the country long to enhance these policies on a large scale, Serufho says this was largely due to the expensive nature of undertaking such a process.

“We do not have a lab to carry out sample analysis of athletes’ specimen and thus we have to do it in South Africa which adds to the costs. Also establishing testing labs is very difficult as WADA has in place very strict requirements to ensure credibility of results. Even South Africa with all its resources have found it difficult to establish a second lab in the country despite the resources they have, something which points to how difficult it is to establish such a lab,” the BNOC CEO added.

Meanwhile, Serufho says the Botswana Government and the BNOC are hard at work to try and establish a National Anti Doping Organisation (NADO) which is mandatory as per the rules and regulations of WADA. According to the BNOC CEO, the problem in establishing NADO has largely been due to lack of resources. If established, unlike the current Interim Anti Doping Committee which uses volunteers, NADO will have its own permanent staff to carry out anti doping duties regularly.


Read this week's paper