Durban – Government will show its support for the “I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping” initiative launched by the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport on Tuesday.
The national Department of Sport and Recreation will on 18 June draw attention to the campaign, which intends to tackle doping in sport, and spread the message of ethics, fair-play and anti-doping.
Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula and his deputy Gert Oosthuizen will lead a ceremonial procession onto the field before kick off at two Super 15 rugby games in Pretoria and Bloemfontein respectively this Saturday.
The SA Institute for Drug Free Sport said the release of shocking statistics reflects a dramatic increase in doping offences in sport.
“Our SA doping control stats clearly show the use of performance enhancing drugs is on the increase among adolescent athletes and the adult population,” said Shuaib Manjra, chairperson for the institute.
“Our latest positive doping stats for the period 1 April 2010 to 30 March 2011 show a [more than] doubling to 50 positive tests from 19 for the year before.”
The rise can be attributed to the widespread availability of sports supplements that contain banned substances like anabolic steroids, pro hormones and stimulants.
“The advertising and marketing of these types of these products is widespread and prays on the sports performance anxiety of athletes, with the products being promoted as an instant solution to improved performance,” he said.
The institute has roped in Bok star Bryan Habana as the role model, who is one of the first athletes to support the campaign and offer his personal pledge.
“We hope the initiative will enable us to get more key anti-doping messages across to athletes and the general sports public of the serious nature of drug abuse as it relates to sport and the consequences thereof. We need to remind athletes that reasons for competing is about the camaraderie, spirit of sport and not a ‘win at all costs’ attitude.”
The SA Rugby Union (SARU) is the first federation to endorse the campaign. Manjra said the Institute was pushing for all sports federations to come on board, endorse the campaign and get involved with helping to spread the anti-doping message.
“With the recent acknowledged use of steroids in schools, we will also step up this initiative around the up and coming Craven rugby weeks, with an increased awareness drive and increased drug testing. We will ensure we get face time with adolescent rugby players,” said Manjra.
“SARU is delighted to support this campaign, as our consistent message is that we condemn all forms of substance abuse… The taking of illegal substances compromises the health and wellness of players, it is against the ethos of the sport of rugby and is simply cheating,” said SARU medical manager, Clint Readhead.
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Director General, David Howman, said WADA applauds initiatives that help raise awareness for the fight against doping in sport. “Reaching out and educating athletes as to the dangers of doping and why it is wrong is a key part of an anti-doping strategy.”
The Institute is encouraging all South African sportsmen and women, coaches and fans to take an I Play Fair pledge.
Those wanting to take the pledge ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ can do so by visiting www.drugfreesport.org.za; the mobi-site: m.drugfreesport.org.za, on the Facebook Page (iplayfairZA) and via Twitter (@iplayfairZA) – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews