SAIDS: Doping can start early
Khalid Galant sheds light on doping at school level ahead of the U18 Craven Week rugby tournament.
CAPE TOWN - Doping can start at an early age with competitive sportsmen, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Khalid Galant said on Thursday.
"It still is a big issue, specifically in South Africa," he told 567 Cape Talk, adding doping in school sport is still a problem.
He made the comments ahead of the Under-18 Craven Week rugby tournament on Sunday.
Earlier in July, South African cyclist Daryl Impey failed a drugs test.
He was the first African to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey back in 2013.
Galant says while there's actually no money in school sport, there's a high commercial value for pupils and parents.
"If one goes to attend Craven Week or national school championships [in any sport], you will definitely get the impression that there's quite the high commercial value in school sport too.
"There are scholarships being offered to students. Even at Craven Week, you'll see on the sidelines, people and schools from Australia, New Zealand and Europe are recruiting kids at South African competitions."
HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM?
Galant says while it's difficult to say how big the problem of doping in school sport is in actual numbers, SAIDS is aware of the issue as it continues to grow.
He says the institute made changes to parts of its focus in terms of strategy, not only focusing on testing around competitive events.
"One of the lessons we learnt from the Lance Armstrong saga is that testing at an event is effective but is not the most effective method of deterring doping. It's the period leading up to these events and post events. That's where we tend to focus more of our resources."
The CEO says most parents turn a blind eye or are not aware of what they are encouraging their children to do.
"A large part of this has to do with some of the sport supplements on the market. While they are widely available, they do contain bad substances."
He says this gives the assumption that if supplements are purchased at a retail store, they are not dangerous and are safe to consume.
Galant however says there are sometimes issues of values, with parents and coaches living vicariously through their children and their performances.
"Some of our education programmes have not only focused on the athletes but also with school governing bodies, parents and coaches."
During the 2010 Craven Week, some rugby players tested positive for banned stimulants.
Two players received a two-year suspension respectively after testing positive for banned stimulant 19-Norandrosterone.
A third rugby player was handed a three-month ban after testing positive for Methyllhexaneamine.