SA ath­let­ics un­der close scru­tiny

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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