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Chairperson of Africa Zone VI Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO), Dr Nicholas Munyonga has raised concern over doping incidents in the region.

Munyonga said in an interview that any case that is reported in any member country raises red flags.

“They could be rising not because there is an outbreak as far as taking of prohibited substances is concerned, but it could be due to increased testing,” he said.

“It could be because the testing that is happening is no longer random testing, but there is a risk profile that is looked into. That could be one major cause that leads to positive tests coming through. One positive test to a medal prospect is a concern.”

Munyonga said what an athlete digests is his or her responsibility and other people can just assist with information.

“The manufacturing of supplements is not regulated in most countries.

What is written on the container may not be what is contained inside?

That is where the point of contamination comes about,” Munyonga added.

He said the fight against doping in sport is multifaceted.

“Over the years, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been looking at ways to enhance the fight. The main agenda in that fight is to make sure that the clean athlete is protected,” he said.

“Therefore, our approach is that, we are not saying athletes are cheating and we should find the cheats. We are saying a whole lot of athletes are clean athletes and they must be protected from losing to those who might have flouted the rules of doping.”

Munyonga said as a region they form a piece of the puzzle in terms of the fight against doping in sport.  He said the fight has been escalated through United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as all parties in the region are party to the Convention.

“They advocate for governments to provide funding for Anti-Doping activities, establishment of national Anti-Doping organisations, manufacturing and regulation of supplements.  There is need for a push for governments to implement the UNESCO Convention,” Munyonga added.

He said member countries could access the WADA testing grant that they access through RADO.

“We are also doing capacity development. After submitting the risk assessment requirements, they can access as many tests as they want which are out of competition testing. The testing enhances other facets of the Anti-Doping programme,” he said.

Munyonga said if they educate athletes about Anti-Doping rules and the consequences and not test, it would be futile.  He said if athletes are tested that is when they will measure the impact of doping.

“The WADA codes state that athletes can violate Anti-Doping rules knowingly, intentionally or unintentionally. Athletes must be well informed,” he said.

Meanwhile, a medical doctor responsible for athletes medical assessment and fitness, based at Bokamoso Hospital, Dr Lesedinyana Odiseng said they always discuss issues of doping, but there is no support structure in place.  “There is need for a standing medical committee that can support athletes. It appears some pharmacists can issue medicine to athletes without a doctor’s prescription,” Odiseng said.