Botswana will be on the edge as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will re-test samples from the London 2012 Olympics, which include that of the country’s first Olympic medallist, Nijel Amos, Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho.
The country won its first medal at the London Olympic Games when Amos brought home silver through an 800m triumph. However, there would be anxiety across the athletics world as the IAAF has taken a decision to re-test some 2012 samples. Montsho and Makwala will also be affected.
Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho said they have been informed that samples from previous games such as the London 2012 Olympic Games will be subjected to re-testing.
“There has been an improvement in science unlike in the past when they were unable to detect certain elements in a sample. Now they have developed capacity to be able to test,” he said.
Serufho said people should not be surprised to hear that an athlete in the next few weeks, who had tested negative at a particular competition, has now been found positive. He said athletes should stay away from what could put them at risk. Serufho said Botswana should adhere to the IAAF anti-doping deadlines. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the IAAF recently announced the categorisation of National Federations under a new Article 15 of the IAAF Anti-Doping.
Serufho said the timelines of the new rules are strict but as a country, they intend to uphold them. He said they would have to find a way around, but it means they should engage the government. “We should also engage the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Africa office to see how best smaller nations would get the process started. If we do not stick to the new requirements, our athletes would continue violating them. Unfortunately we would lose them because they would get sanctioned,” he said.
Some of the obligations for Federations in Category B are to assist the AIU in collecting and maintaining whereabouts information from NF’s athletes selected in the IAAF Testing Pool. The BAA is expected to appoint one person as primary contact for the AIU with authority over anti-doping matters. The association should ensure that athletes selected in the national team for IAAF World Championships and Olympic Games
The Federations are also expected to declare all medications, drugs, therapeutic substances and supplements intended to be used for national teams at IAAF World Championships. Serufho said Botswana is in B category and if they do not adhere to the deadline, it is possible to drop to a lower category.
“Every year, WADA puts certain countries under watch list. Some even get noncompliance status and if we do not fulfil the conditions that are required, we could be declared non-compliant status,” he said. Serufho said setting up anti-doping structure is going to be expensive, but they can start small and focus on what is ideal. Serufho said incidents such as the Russian doping scandal, which was discovered to have been systematic, led to an agreement of having autonomous doping structures.
“The new agreement gives the testing authorities power to test any time and reduces chances of people cheating,” he said. Serufho said they welcome the new AIU rules. He said they have stated that they are against doping and want athletes to stay clean, adding that they would continue educating athletes about the dangers of doping. Serufho said the next step is to handhold National Federations.
“The first thing they should do is to change their regulations. They should make that in every competition they have, anti-doping officials must be present to provide education. The federations should not only depend on BNOC to provide them with education,” Serufho said. He said the Federations should have resource persons. Serufho said doping is being fought from all angles.
“National Federations should not ignore issues of doping thinking that it is for somebody else. It is affecting us now and they look at their constitutions. They should also set up structures,” he said.