SA athletics under close scrutiny
keep the cheats out of the sport.
Jamaica came under similar scrutiny when the tiny nation emerged as a sprinting superpower more than eight years ago.
The pessimism seemed at least partly justified after six Jamaican athletes tested positive for banned substances in 2013.
It was found Jamaica lacked adequate domestic doping control, which resulted in an overhaul of the country’s anti-doping programme.
Three cases in the last year highlighted that South Africa were not immune to the surge of doping in athletics.
Discus thrower Victor Hogan recently served out a nine-month ban after an initial two-year suspension was reduced on appeal.
110m hurdles champion Tiaan Smit received a fouryear ban after testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent.
In the latest case distance runner Louisa Leballo received a hefty eight-year ban for a doping violation and an attempt to subvert the testing process.
The 39-year-old Leballo’s urine sample returned an adverse analytical finding, revealing the presence of the Peptide Hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO).
While these cases raises concerns about the use of banned substances in local athletics it also suggests the underfunded SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) are doing its work.
One top athlete raised the concern that cases like these are severely damaging the country’s reputation.
As the gaze of the world shifts to South Africa we can ill afford to give the pessimists room to doubt the country’s legitimate rise on the global stage.
The faulty timing system at the Bloemfontein leg of the ASA Speed Series would also have called South Africa’s results into question.
To ensure South Africa continues on this upward curve we need to ensure every level of the sport pulls in the same direction.
That would require competent administrators, clean athletes, and a progressive selection policy that creates a pipeline for success.