The Head of Regional Anti-doping Organisation (RADO), Andrew Kamanga has cautioned local athletes to steer clear of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) and make sports clean again.
Speaking in an interview, Kamanga conceded that there is a dramatic surge in the number of positive doping cases in the sub-region and Botswana in particular, where he is headquartered. The country has registered six positive cases of illegal dopes since 2015. The band of offenders include athletics stars Amantle Montsho, Lydia Jele, Onalenna Baloi and Tsaone Seoke who tested positive in 2018. Lesedi Irvin Chery and Emmanuel Ntshiiwa were national team rugby players when they also tested positive in 2015.
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) spokesperson, Oabona Theetso said the fact that track and field athletes lead in positive doping cases is a cause for concern and a disturbing phenomenon, which casts Botswana athletics in bad light. He said the results thus far would suggest their athletes do not conform to the rules and regulations of fair play through unfair advantage wrought by PED’s.
Meanwhile, Theetso declined to delve into the possible causes of the doping phenomenon in his sporting code save to say he would not want to speculate and hypothesize in the absence of a tested conclusion.
On the other hand, Zilwele Khumalo -Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) Sports Development manager said their players tested positive after using a fat burning supplement oblivious that it may contain a prohibited substance. He, however, said they have never had any other incidents since the 2015 cases as players are more enlightened and cautious before taking any food or drinks.
Kamanga describes a single positive case as one too many stressing the career destruction and monetary losses it has occasioned to some A-listers. He further said authorities have been coming across some suspicious but tests whose verdicts were however inconclusive. He noted that the laboratory has been providing information about World Anti-Doping Code prohibited substances albeit in minute quantities to declare a verdict.
Kamanga said RADO is beginning to administer the steroidal and hematological levels monitoring system to track and observe athletes samples over an extended period. He said doping circumstances also vary, and in certain instances investigations have revealed cases where athletes use legally prescribed medicines containing PED’s. In those cases, he said, sportspeople are granted therapeutic use exemption to use substances under strict supervision to preserve their lives. “We are not going to say they should die. Doctors must then ensure that dosages are under the threshold to not give an athlete a competitive advantage,” revealed Kamanga.
Doping is a wide all-encompassing transgression that can easily entangle an athlete. It does not only involve the presence of prohibited substances in a sample but also includes a refusal to submit to doping authorities or failure to submit ones location once identified in the batch.
Other breaches within the code include performance enhancing drug trafficking and their possession. It is for this reason that Kamanga says the authority does not brook ignorance as an excuse amongst athletes. He stated that it is incumbent upon athletes to apply their minds to the World Anti-Doping code which lists the hundreds of banned substances stressing that doping authorities are not on a vendetta to catch athletes as has been miscomprehended.
Kamanga also revealed that they have been receiving a yearly grant of P750 000 from government, which amount has been increased in the current financial year. Besides this amount the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has accommodated RADO in kind, in their ministry. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization fund for doping elimination has also shelled about P1 500 000 million for clean sports over a three year period.
Kamanga’s anti-doping mandate straddle the entire Zone IV region. It includes Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland.