It is vital of all local athletes to desist from doping if they are to guard Botswana’s sporting image, the Manager for Africa Zone VI Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO), Andrew Kamanga, has said.
Doping is the use of prohibited medications, drugs or treatments by athletes with the intention of improving their athletic performance. To avoid or limit that, a body named the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999 as an international independent agency composed and funded equally by the sports movement and governments of the world.
Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities, and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) – the document harmonising anti-doping policies in all sports and all countries. Botswana had its first doping case in 2008. Since then, athletes across different sporting codes – track athletics, football and rugby among them – have been caught on the wrong side of the anti-doping regime, testing positive in both in and out-of-season tests.
At most, athletes test positive for banned substances when participating in various international competitions. Some of the athletes who have tested positive for banned substances in the country include Lydia Jele (athletics) and Amantle Montsho (athletics but retired). Kamanga has urged local athletes to stay away from taking performance enhancing performances. “And the emphasis goes to those representing the country at various international competitions,” he said in a telephone interview with Business Weekly Sports.
“It is absolutely crucial that athletes who represent the country in these prestigious international competitions are clean. They should be able to represent the country with pride and honour.” Kamanga noted that National Sports Associations (NSAs) have a role to play in ensuring that athletes stay away from doping. “They should utilise their various events, projects and programmes to reinforce the values of clean sports,” he said.
“Some NSAs have embraced this role and included anti-doping provisions in their constitutions and regulations. They are also actively engaging the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) to seal support for anti-doping education and awareness activities.” He emphasised the importance of doping education, noting that athletes ought to be schooled in it regularly because doping rules and regulations keep changing.
“And it must be noted that the Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sports and Culture, BNOC and the Interim National Anti- Doping Organisation Committee are undertaking commendable initiatives to educate athletes and athlete support personnel (ASP) on doping,” Kamanga said. “Athletes and ASP have to internalise the messages and help to promote clean sports.”
Even so, she noted that Botswana and other member countries of RADO have developmental challenges that make it difficult for them to implement certain anti-doping programmes despite his efforts to promote clean sports. “Limited financial resources and shortage of skilled personnel make it difficult for countries like Botswana to implement anti-doping programmes and projects,” he said.