WADA ban: Appeal will save Bok blushes
REACTION: South Africa plans to appeal the proposed ‘ban’ by the World Anti-Doping Agency that could come into effect on October 14.
Weekend media reports were the first hints that there was trouble brewing, with a midweek report on the Daily Maverick website pointing out exactly how it could potentially impact the Springboks’ campaign as they defend their World Cup title in France.
It was reported – as was first published on the WADA website last Thursday, September 28 – that the Boks may be forced to compete under a neutral flag in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
They could also be denied singing their national anthem before matches, due to the country’s ‘non-compliance’ of the latest WADA regulations.
It all stems from a WADA meeting on September 22 – which made it clear that the South African National Anti-Doping Organizations (SAIDS) were ‘not compliant’ with WADA regulations, as a result of the South African government’s failure to amend its outdated drug-free sports act.
South Africa has until October 13, the day before the World Cup quarterfinals, to comply.
However, Zizi Kodwa, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, said they plan to appeal the WADA ruling.
“The declaration of WADA has no effect till October 13,” Minister Kodwa said.
“However, when we lodge the appeal, it will suspend the consequences,” he said, adding that he is “positive” the matter will be resolved speedily.
The appeal means the WADA stance will have no impact on the Boks’ campaign in France.
The South African Rugby Union was also reliant on government action to ameliorate the potential conundrum.
“The matter is totally out of our hands,” SARU CEO Rian Oberholzer told @rugby365com.
“It is a pity it has happened, but it is an issue for government to resolve.
“We hope the matter gets resolved before the quarterfinals.”
Last month WADA announced in a statement that South Africa had fallen foul of the ‘mandatory compliance’ requirements and will face dire consequences.
The new revised anti-doping code from WADA came into effect on 1 January 2021 and all member countries must comply.
South Africa and Bermuda are the only two sporting bodies and federations out of 700 that are not compliant with the new code.
A statement by the Sports Minister, Kodwa, on the official government website already alerted to the potential problem.
“I have noted the decision by the WADA on Friday, September 23, that current South African legislation, the South African Drug-Free Sport Amendment Act, 25 of 2006, is not compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code,” Kodwa’s statement read.
“We have worked tirelessly to amend legislation as recommended by WADA.
“There has also been input by WADA in working with us to draft SAIDS’ Amendment Bill, which will now be taken through the South African Constitutional process of finalising a Bill.
“It is disappointing that South Africa has been found to be non-compliant despite this undertaking to pass legislation which meets the World Anti-Doping Code.
“I would like to reassure athletes, sports federations, and the sports public that the non-compliance finding will not affect drug testing in South African sport. SAIDS will continue to deliver services that protect clean sport in South Africa
“The South African Government process for promulgating legislation is thorough and comprehensive. Any legislation, including amendments, must meet the muster of the South African Constitution and cannot contradict or nullify any existing laws.
“I officially communicated with WADA President Witold Bańka on South Africa’s position, and have requested to meet with him urgently.
“South Africa is committed to anti-doping in sport. SAIDS has done much work to meet the evolving dynamics of compliance in global sport on matters of anti-doping, anti-corruption, governance reforms, child safeguarding and data protection.
“The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture will continue to expend all efforts get the Amendment Bill adopted expeditiously.”
* Picture credit: @rugbyworldcup