Kenya’s athletes in doping cross hairs but SA ‘is safe’
As the attention of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) shifts to Kenyan athletics, South Africa ought not to be entangled in the same mess as Russia, which has been found in breach of Wada’s codes.
This is the assurance from Khalid Galant, chief executive of the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids), in the wake of the All-Russia Athletic Federation’s provisional ban from the sport after allegations of systemic state-sponsored doping. There are fears that Kenya’s athletes are now suspects after a spate of failed drug tests over the years, including two doping violations at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Beijing, China, in August, where the east African nation topped the medals table.
Although Saids is funded by government, Galant said it remained independent on a management and operational level.
“The structure of our sport, and how Saids as an anti-doping agency is positioned, is different to Russia,” he said.
“If you read the Wada independent commission’s report, you will deduce that a loose arrangement around the independence of the anti-doping authority was a key ingredient in the breakdown of their [Russia’s] dopingcontrol system.”
The Wada report nailed Russian athletics on the basis that its state security services were colluding with the country’s athletics federation to allow athletes to take performanceenhancing drugs without fear of being tested.
Now the Russians need to prove to the IAAF that they can operate without interference from state security services if the country is reinstated in international competition.
“In South Africa, we have a minister of sport, who is committed to enforcing the world anti-doping code, we have Sascoc [the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee] and various national federations, including Athletics SA, who respect the independence and autonomy of Saids,” he said.
Galant said the Saids laboratory in Bloemfontein was independent and “does not account to Saids, but to the vicechancellor of the University of the Free State”.
The lab is one of 35 accredited laboratories around the world that conduct human doping-control sample analyses – and the only one in Africa. Most sub-Saharan African nations have their samples analysed in Bloemfontein.
Russia’s state-funded lab in Moscow is alleged to have not operated independently and is not subject to any pressures regarding the nondisclosure of positive samples.