The National Sports Commission (NSC) and the Namibia National Olympic Committee are currently in the final stage of finalising the establishment of the country’s first national anti-doping organisation, The Villager Sports has learnt.
The establishment of the agency is contained in the newly developed National Sports Plan, which is also addressing pressing sports issues such reviewing the law regulating female boxing in the country to make it professional.
The establishment of the anti-doping agency will come at time when the country reported one of its isolated cases of doping as Namibian rugby player, Arthur Bouwer, was banned by the world’s rugby body for doping.
Bouwer provided a compulsory urine sample while on international duty with the national senior rugby team, the Welwitchias that proved positive for a banned substance in the end.
The latest incident has ignited the spark again in the sporting fraternity for the creation of a national anti-doping body to test Namibian athletes before they compete at national level or outside the country.
Doping cases are increasing in Namibia now, most of which are reported in the rugby fraternity, something that was rare in the past.
According to Namibia Sports Commission chairperson, Joel Mathews, the National Sport Plan was presented to the minister of Sport, Youth and National Services, Jerry Ekandjo, and his deputy, Agnes Tjongarero, a former NNOC chairperson.
Mathews noted that NSC were now just awaiting final approval before the launch date is announced.
He said that the NSC and NNOC have developed and created the country’s rules regarding doping, which include developing an anti-doping education programme and introducing an educational programme.
The NSC also reviewed the current sports act and compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code and education on anti-doping has been included in the draft copy to be approved by the cabinet.
Elaborating on the role of national anti-doping bodies, Mathews said: “NADO are Government funded organizations responsible for testing national athletes in and out of completion within that national border adjudicating anti-doping rules violations and anti-doping issues. In the case of Namibia in the absence of NADO and NNOC administer anti-doping issues in Namibia.”
Mathews also stressed that because of limited resources due to budgetary constraints to facilitate anti-doping education and awareness programmes, the NSC had a meeting with the director of sport E.S. Katamba emphasizing on the importance of anti-doping education in Namibia.
The director was further more briefed on the challenges and achievement thus far achieved on the anti-doping education.
Currently Namibian athletes are tested in South Africa and Botswana, which is costly. The urine samples are collected by a trained medical doctor under the auspices of the NNOC and are then send to a laboratory in Bloemfontein for analysis. The regional offices are in Botswana and caters for 11 countries, including Ghana, who is the last addition for English speaking countries. RADO aims at capacity building, testing and training of anti-doping officials, education of athletes on doping and banned substances as the list is updated every year.
Sport organizations and authorities have been fighting the use of drugs in sports, with a purpose of protecting athletes as it poses health issues that can lead to death. The equal opportunities of athletes, according to the anti-doping authorities the use of performance enhancing drugs goes against the spirit of sport.
In 2004 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) introduced the World Anti-Doping Code aimed at overseeing activities in a number of key areas like science and medicine, global anti-doping development, cooperation with law enforcement and other initiatives like independent observer missions at major sport events.
The Code is a core document that provides the framework for anti-doping policies, rules, and regulations within sport organizations and among public authorities. It is designed to harmonize anti-doping policies and ensure the standards are the same for all athletes, a WADA website states.