Montsho suspension: Another harsh lesson

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Amantle Montsho’s suspension for doping is yet another harsh lesson for Botswana and local sport. The two-year suspension comes at the wrong time for Montsho - one of Botswna's most successful althletes - who is reaching the latter stages of her career.

This suspension will really set her back and I’m afraid she might never regain her status as one of the world’s best. Two years without proper competition will be detrimental to her career, but we can only hope for the best.  

Montsho’s A sample was found with traces of a banned stimulant, methylhexaneamine, and she requested a B sample, which also returned positive results. The ban effects from the day Montsho was suspended in July 2014, meaning she can only compete in July 2016. This will most probably rule her out of the 2016 RIO Olympics. The suspension is a big blow to her and this might be the end of her career.  For her to appeal the decision she would have to part with about P200 000 and I wonder if that would be wise.

I have in the past written about the issue of doping and the somewhat ‘relaxed’ manner in which we address and approach the issue. And it was bound to happen that one of our big names would be caught out. I wouldn’t want to make any judgement on Montsho on whether she indeed doped or not, and if she did, if it was intentional or not. But having been found guilty, the powers that be must have found something for them to give out the guilty verdict. I cannot for one second believe that Montsho would intentionally dope, not when she was there and there abouts near the top. There are many theories on what could have happened but we can never know. As it is, it is only Amantle Montsho who knows what really went down.

I personally feel she did make a mistake and took something that she wasn’t supposed to take and the anti-doping police don’t make any compromises at any sniff of doping. Although she says the banned substance came into her system through a supplement, that is no defence. As an experienced athlete she should have known better and done due diligence before taking whatever supplement she took. It is rather unfortunate, that what might have been innocent has copped her two-year ban from what loves doing.

The moral of the story here is that we need to take issues of Doping in Sport very seriously. And it has to be across all sporting codes and at the very lowest of levels. That is where we need to start. We need to start drumming in information on Doping on athletes at developmental level. We have seen how being on the wrong side of the law has stalled and in some instances ended promising sport careers. Montsho’s case is one example. I acknowledge that there is a lot of effort but more can still be done. Although we haven’t had many such cases where our top athletes are caught out, one is just too many.

Montsho’s slip up should be a lesson to all. Even budding young athletes should learn from this ordeal. We can never have enough education and enough information, so it needs to be forever on the priority list across all sport codes, lest we lose out on talent and possible medals at the international stage. This needs a united force, with all stakeholders on board.

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