Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Doping scandals likely to bring Botswana athletes under scrutiny

The continued return of positive results from performance enhancing drugs tests on local athletes is likely to bring the country and its athletes under scrutiny.

Since the first incident concerning a local athlete in 2008, Botswana has now experienced a rise in athletes returning adverse analytical findings.

Ever since the incident, athletes from different sporting codes, being track athletics, football and rugby have been caught on the wrong side during both in and out of season tests.

Speaking in an interview, Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho said as the country continues to churn out world class athletes, any frequency in positive tests will bring scrutiny.

“Prior to the first doping incident involving local athletes in 2008, Botswana was a nonentity in world sports. We did not have world class athletes as we do have right now,” the BNOC CEO explained.

“Since then, we have grown as a sporting country and along the way, we have also experienced a rise in athletes testing positive along the way,” Serufho said.

According to the BNOC CEO, with the rise in world class athletes going hand in hand with the rise in return of positive analytical findings among local athletes, it will therefore come as no surprise if the world anti doping bodies takes an interest in Botswana.

The same sentiments were echoed by former Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Secretary General (SG) Legojane Kebaitse.

“Something needs to be urgently done to address this situation. Any continued return of positive results will only put the country under unnecessary scrutiny,” Kebaitse opined.

Speaking in an interview, Kebaitse said what is worrying is that the athletes who have tested positive have come from different sporting codes.

“If you look closely, we have had athletes from athletics, football and rugby testing positive. This clearly shows that we need a holistic approach to anti doping. As government, sports bodies and sports leaders, we have to look beyond just athletics and look into doping in sports in general,” the former BAA Secretary General said.

Quizzed on whether the country is doing enough to sensitise athletes on anti doping issues, both Serufho and Kebaitse were cagey on the matter.

“We are doing the best that we can under the circumstances. We have to admit that the education provided is commensurate with the monies we get towards such an education,” Serufho explained.

Despite this, the BNOC CEO said he was baffled that almost all of the athletes caught on the wrong side of doping are national team athletes.

“When it comes to national team athletes, I believe they are well educated on issues of doping. Every time they have camps, they are always educated on doping issues and I believe they have enough education, yet they get caught,” he said.

“I would understand if it was development athletes who are getting caught. As it stands, at the moment, these are the athletes who I believe we are not giving enough education,” he continued.

Serufho said as the BNOC, they are continuously in talks with all the relevant stakeholders, including the government, to create an independent National Anti Doping Organisation (NADO) to concentrate solely on doping issues.

For his part, Kebaitse said while the country is doing the best it can to address the issue, sporting federations also need to put in some extra effort to continuously educate athletes.

“The list of banned substances changes time and again and athletes need to be kept up to date with any changes in the list. Federations therefore need to continuously inform athletes of such changes to ensure they are not caught unawares,” he said.

He also added that athletes also need to always check the World Anti Doping Association (WADA) websites for any changes.

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