Dope testing must be brought back, says Safa

Johannesburg – The South African Football Association (Safa) says that it is concerned about the very little, if any, doping tests that are conducted in South African soccer leagues.

The national association says that it wants more vigorous dope testing to be brought back in the PSL, and Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe said he would initiate talks with the league regarding the matter.

This is in the aftermath of a number of SA Under-23 players who were recently kicked out of team camp following allegations of some testing positive for dagga.

The players were in camp preparing for the recently concluded Olympic Games and were removed from the camp due to “medical reasons”, Safa had said in a statement. According to Safa officials, it seems there has not been any testing conducted in South Africa’s Premiership and the GladAfrica Championship (national first division) in recent years.

And as a result, certain players have been taking advantage of this hole in the fence. “We want to encourage the league and other football structures to bring back vigorous tests in football and other sports codes.

The information that I am getting is that it has not been done for some time,” Motlanthe told Sunday World.

“Such tests will create doping awareness among the players. We cannot afford to have a situation where our national teams are embarrassed in international competitions as a result of testing positive.”

Safa chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya added: “We haven’t seen a lot of testing being done recently. We have to find a way to bring back doping tests in the PSL. There’s no two ways about it. “This is to make sports free and fair, it’s also done to safeguard the health of the players and also about the integrity of the game.”

Marijuana still illegal, says Saids

Despite landmark laws regarding the use of marijuana, the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (Saids) warned professional athletes that the use of marijuana is still not allowed. Marijuana was legalised in South Africa three years ago, but for personal use in small quantities in one’s home.

However, the Saids has warned that athletes are still bound by the World Anti-Doping Code that prohibits marijuana.

The use of dagga by athletes has been banned by many sports commissions all over the world.

However, some have relaxed their policies as societal attitudes towards its use have shifted.

The prohibition “is one of the most controversial issues in anti-doping”. There is no scientific consensus regarding its performance-enhancing effects, with one paper released in 2018 reporting “there is no evidence for cannabis use as a performance-enhancing drug.”

Calls for eliminating cannabis testing have come from the perspective of better pain management and reducing usage of opioids (restricted pain-relieving drugs).

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