The case for anti-doping in sports

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture recently recently told a meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board in Montreal, Canada that anti-doping is an important aspect of both sports and human development.

Calling for consolidation of global efforts to eliminate doping in sports, Minister Shaw Kgathi also acknowledged that anti-doping initiatives in Africa may be frustrated by disparities in levels of development and work to be done amongst African countries.  The minister, who was recently appointed to the WADA Foundation Board for three years, appealed for WADA's support in forging an ambitious anti-doping education programme during games.  He also noted that doping in sports is a scourge that is no longer limited to elite athletes and is increasingly found in amateur and school sports.  We salute Kgathi for his presentation to the august body and take the opportunity to congratulate him on his appointment because it should enable him to help build a worldwide front against doping in sports.  Thankfully, laudable efforts to that end are already afoot, witness recently announced cooperation between WADA and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) to combat the latest doping techniques.  Says IFPMA through its website: "The Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the Fight Against Doping in Sports facilitates voluntary cooperation between IFPMA member companies and WADA to identify medicinal compounds with doping potential, minimise misuse of medicines still in development, improve the flow of relevant information, and facilitate development of detection methods."  Clinched in 2010, this Joint Declaration created a strong framework of collaboration and encouraged IFPMA member companies and WADA to voluntarily cooperate.  Kgathi has spoken of impediments to combating doping in sports, implying that the war must begin with elimination of these obstacles which the minister did not say were impregnable.  He has spoken of different levels of development on the African continent.  By this, we believe, he meant - for example - the contrast between Botswana where sports remains a rudimentary leisure that is still at amateur level, and neighbouring South Africa where sports is big business.  But in our view, this should present no hindrance to combating doping in sports because the scourge does not discriminate between amateur and professional.  Indeed, more developed regimes may be ravaged by high-falutin status drugs while the poorer might be dealing with the ubiquitous motokwane (marijuana), but the difference is really the same.  At any rate, the aim for Botswana and similarly amateur sporting regimes is to go professional, and several individuals in an increasing number of African countries enjoy that status already.  We must admit that abuse of habit-forming drugs like marijuana is a problem in Botswana, primarily because marijuana is cheap and abundant.  In fact, so widespread is abuse of this 'poor man's dope' that even primary school pupils are known to be hooked on it.  And if our sportsmen and sportswomen are spotted and groomed from that tender age - which they are - we must embrace anti-doping initiatives with gusto.  Regular testing of athletes is the way to go.

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Editor's Comment
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