Department Budget: Input From Swimming SA and South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport

Sports, Arts and Culture

10 March 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


10 March 2005

: B Komphela (ANC)

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Swimming South Africa website
South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport website

South African Institute for Drug-free Sport briefed the Committee on its activities and the budget. It would welcome any increase to its budget. It was very expensive to conduct drug tests. The Institute was actively involved in education and training people on drugs and sports. It was disappointing that most PSL clubs were not responding to the need to educate players on the use of drugs.

The Committee believed that there was not sufficient education of athletes on the use of drugs. Some members cited the case of Moneeb Josephs as an example. It was suggested that clubs whose players had tested positive for banned substances should be punished. Many athletes often blamed coaches for giving them banned substances. There were heavy penalties for support staff and coaches who supplied banned substances to athletes. The punishment imposed on an athlete could be reduced if the athlete disclosed the supplier of the substance.

Swimming South Africa input
The Chairperson said that Swimming South Africa (SSA) had written a letter to him indicating that they could not attend the meeting. The Federation requested the Committee to note that its budget had been reduced from R249 million in 2004/05 to R203 million for 2005/06. R91 million of the budget would be allocated to the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) to form part of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG). They noted an increase of R23 million for the school sports budget. In the past schools had not demonstrated their commitment to the sport and, in particular, to skills programmes such as Swimming South Africa. It was expected that the allocations that would be given to sports federations for the 2005/06 financial year would be substantially similar to allocations given in the 2004/05 year. SSA was hoping that its allocation would be substantially increased because it wanted to prepare for transformation and teaching people how to swim so that they could win medals at the next Olympics, Commonwealth and All Africa games.

South African Institute for Drug-free Sports
Ms D Bradbury (CEO) noted that the Institute did not appear before the Committee in 2004. She felt that it was important to given a a progress report with respect to some activities. The Institute had been given short notice in 2004 and had not been able to honour the invitation due to prior commitments.

The Chairperson asked who funded the Institute and if they were audited by the Auditor General.

Ms Bradbury replied that the Institute was funded by the department, Sports and Recreation South Africa (SRSA). The Institute was audited by the Auditor General and had received an unqualified report. It also did an internal financial risk management audit on an annual basis.

The Chairperson noted that as long as the Institute was funded by SRSA, it was expected to give reports to the Portfolio Committee. All entities that received funds from government were expected to report to Parliament.

Ms Bradbury said that in April 2003 to March 2004 the Institute had a budget for 1 900 drug tests. It conducted 2 241 tests against 52 sports codes. These included 140 tests on behalf of international sports federations but on South African athletes who competed at international events. There were 23 positive test results: 12 anabolic agents, five for cannabis, three stimulants and three failures to comply. It trained and accredited 55 doping control officers to international standards and 70 chaperones who conducted testing throughout the country.

The Institute provided accessible and economical information to its target market. It had a drug free hotline and website from which people could download information on banned substances in sports. It had distributed 5000 information leaflets to athletes across the country. Drug educational materials in five languages had also been distributed to 6000 athletes.

The Institute had received funding from the National Lottery that enabled it to conduct comprehensive train-the-trainer workshops about drugs in sports. When it approached the National Lottery for funding, it had submitted that there was a fine line between the abuse of recreational drugs and the abuse of sports drugs. They wanted to develop a school programme to engage with pupils who were on recreational drugs and those on sports drugs. Sports drugs abusers were usually the class's heroes and never considered themselves as drug abusers. They were often encouraged to win at all costs by their school and parents. This seemed to suggest that it was right to take sports drugs. The long term damage caused by sports drugs was far worse than that caused by recreational drugs. A partnership with South African National Council for Alcohol and Drug abuse was formed in order to train facilitators in different fields on drugs related issues. Consequently, it had 656 trained officials who were equipped to pass information to other educators. It also conducted monthly workshops for coaches, athletes, sports federations, pharmacists and medical professionals. Anti-doping information and education materials were distributed at major events like the Comrades Marathon. The National Lottery was impressed with the progress made and had made more funds available to the Institute. Sports drugs were beginning to be recognised as a problem.

South Africa was accepted as the 10th participant in the international anti-doping arrangement. The Institute had represented South Africa and contributed to major international conferences and workshops on the development of procedures for the world anti-doping code. It was elected to the Executive Committee of the Association of National Anti-doping Organisations. It had assisted with the doping control programme at the All Africa Games in Nigeria and Indian Ocean Island Games.

The Institute was granted R2m by SRSA to upgrade the testing facilities at the South African Anti-doping laboratory at the University of Free State. The laboratory was one of the 29 World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) laboratories.

It had a budget for 2000 drug tests but it would, by the end of March 2005, have conducted 2 200 on South African athletes competing regionally, nationally and internationally. The tests were extended to a limited number of schools sporting events that fell under the auspices of major federations. It was estimated that a minimum of three workshops per month would be conducted. It had started testing for Eryhthropoietin (EPO). EPO was a naturally occurring hormone in the body that was now being produced artificially. It stimulated the production of red blood cells. It was difficult to detect and only four laboratories in the world could detect it. It gave extra energy and endurance and was widely used in endurance sports like cycling, swimming and marathons. The Institute has started testing last year at the Comrades Marathon and was also testing in cycling. It had the first EPO positive test in cycling involving a 15-year old cyclist. The cyclist was given a penalty which the Institute thought was inappropriate because it did not comply with the World Anti-doping Code penalties. All countries and federations had to comply with the code. The matter had since been referred to the International Court for arbitration.

A total number of 40 positive drug tests had been conducted since the beginning of 2005 primarily because the Institute was increasing the number of tests conducted each year and was also increasing the number of out-of-competition tests. The athletes knew that they would probably be tested during competitions. The Institute was moving away from tests during competitions. Anti-doping officials would normally visit athletes at their homes or places of work and conduct tests. Refusal to submit to testing was equivalent to a positive test result because it was assumed that the athlete who refused to be tested had something to hide.

There were very stringent new requirements that were introduced by the Anti-doping code this year. The Institute was upgrading its anti-doping procedures to be in line with the code. The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Act [No. 14 of 1997] was also being amended. One of the most difficult requirements was the issue of Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Any athlete who had any medical requirements, including minor asthma medications, had to apply for TUE. Athletes were obliged to provide a quarterly report of their whereabouts.

The Institute would be grateful for any increase it would get from the government.

Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) asked if the Institute was doing enough in terms of educating athletes about the use of drugs. He cited the case of Mr Moneeb Josephs, a goalkeeper for Ajax Cape Town Football Club, who was banned from soccer activities for six months. Mr Josephs had claimed that the banned substance was contained in his medication for asthma. He asked what athletes should do when they were prescribed medications. One could sympathise with some of the "offenders".

Ms Bradbury replied that education could never be enough. The situation was aggravated by lack of resources. The Institute also relied on federations to spread the message. It ran workshops and road shows and sent a booklet on banned drugs to clubs at the beginning of each season. The problem was that most athletes never read the booklet. It was very unfortunate that the South African Football Association had not informed Mr Josephs on the procedures to be followed. The TUE was not required for asthma medication prior June 2004. TUE was extend to asthma since then. The Institute normally processed the application for exemption the moment it received the application. Most, if not all, of the people who applied for TUE got it. The federation knew about the extension for the TUE to asthma medication. Information on the extension was sent to every sports federation as from November 2003. They were constantly asked to shoulder some responsibility for ensuring that athletes had the required knowledge. She thought it was unfair for Mr Josephs to be punished in that manner. He could have been given a lighter sentence. The Institute reported on the tests conducted and it was up to the different federations to take action. It had the right to approach SRSA if the federation had not taken appropriate action.

Mr T Louw (ANC) asked why the Institute had targeted 2000 tests and not more than that. Pharmacists knew nearly everything about the contents of medicines and were supposed to pass such information on to athletes. He wondered if they were involved in educating athletes and if all athletes knew everything they were expected to know about drugs. Mr Josephs had innocently taken his medication only to be banned from soccer activities for six months. He asked if the Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs and other sports federations were responsive to the need to educate players on drugs abuse.

Ms Bradbury replied that drug tests were expensive. It cost around R1 500 to conduct a drug test. They could only do a limited number of tests due to budget constraints. Fifty percentage of the Institute's budget went to drug testing. It was in line with comparable agencies. It had a minimum number of test to conduct in terms of international doping control standards.

The Institute had sent information to pharmacies. It also did workshops with pharmaceutical faculties in universities across the country. The knowledge about anti-doping was spreading. The Institute had written letters to the PSL clubs but only one of them, Black Leopards FC, had responded. The Institute sent two facilitators to train the club on drugs.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) said that the concept of 'performance enhancing drugs' was easy to understand. This was not the case with 'recreational drugs'. The use of performance enhancing drugs had long been prohibited. However, there used to be few cases of positive drug tests. The number of positive results had increased in recent years. He wondered if this was attributable to an advanced testing mechanism.

Ms Bradbury replied that drug testing started long time ago. There had always been rumours that some athletes were using drugs and their federations had covered up for them. A total independent testing body, WADA, was established in 1999. Anti-doping regulations became divorced from sports federations in 2000 and hence greater transparency in recent years.

Mr S Masango (DA) asked if the effects of performance enhancing drugs were the same. It was surprising that the punishments meted out against offenders were not the same. Some people were addicted to drugs for life. He wondered if such people were banned from sporting activities for life.

Ms Bradbury agreed that there were problems with the sentencing of offenders. Some athletes were given lighter sentences. Most athletes were of the opinion that a minimum four year ban was appropriate for a first time offender. The Anti-doping code had standardised penalties. The code specified that one could be given a warning for a first offence involving minor drugs. Heavier drugs attracted an initial two-year suspension from all sports.

Mr L Reid (ANC) asked if the Institute also targeted coaches. There had been many athletes who had blamed their coaches for giving them prohibited substances. In Rugby circles, it was often discovered that a player had been using drugs only at the end of the year. He wondered if the coach could not see the sudden increase in the performance of players.

Ms Bradbury replied that the support staff and coaches had always been blamed for supplying banned substances to athletes. The penalties for the support staff and coaches were heavier. Most athletes were reluctant to disclose the names of people who had supplied them with the banned substances. In terms of the code, penalties could be reduced if the offenders disclosed the identity of the supplier. There was no recourse against someone who was outside the sports arena. There were a few unethical doctors and pharmacists who supplied banned substances to athletes.

Mr Masango asked if random testing was impartial. Kaizer Chiefs Football Club, a PSL Affiliated club, had complained that their players were targeted for testing.

Ms Bradbury replied that there was random testing and target testing. The Institute normally received tip offs about people who were abusing drugs but never acted on them because some of the tips could be malicious. There was a totally objective testing plan based on the number of sports and number of people per sports. The plan was usually drafted at the beginning of the year but could change due to the scheduling of other events by sporting bodies.

Mr S Masango (DA) asked if the Institute trained people across all nine provinces or only in major provinces.

Ms Bradbury confirmed that training was done across all provinces but there was a greater number of them in major centres.

Mr Louw said that it was disappointing that only the Black Leopards had received training on drugs. Some kind of penalties should be imposed on clubs whose players had tested positive for banned substances. Clubs were quick to punish their players for drug abuse but were not active in educating them about drug abuse.

Mr S Masango felt that competition ceased to be fair if an athlete was allowed to compete under the influence of drugs.

Ms Bradbury replied that anyone could apply for an exemption. Medication in use should not be replaceable by another medicine and must also not enhance performance. The applicant must provide a doctor's report to support the application.

Mr Saloojee asked if all participants in international events were tested or if there was a random selection of athletes. He felt that it would be difficult to test all participants at the Olympic Games, for instance.

Ms Bradbury replied that testing was normally done according to the rules of the event. The winner and the runner up were usually tested. In most cases there was no target testing unless someone had won against expectations.

Mr Komphela asked if the Institute had the power to ask a person to submit to testing. He also asked the presenter to explain what she meant by ‘failure to comply’.

Ms Bradbury replied that ‘failure to comply’ referred to instances wherein a person had refuse to submit to testing or had not arrived at the place of testing. Failure to comply was equivalent to a positive drug test but the punishments were not the same. It was assumed that only those people who refused testing had something to hide.

The Chairperson noted that it was expensive to conduct a drugs test. He asked if the team or the individual player paid for the test.

Ms Bradbury replied that testing was expensive because it was done under a very secure environment. There was only one company in Switzerland that could make secure testing equipment that could not be tampered with. Laboratories did comprehensive and complex analysis of the sample. The exercise was expensive and hence the decision to do random testing as opposed to testing everybody. It was unfair to conduct tests on people who had no knowledge about drugs and sports. Athletes were responsible for ensuring that they knew the contents of substances they put into their bodies.

The Chairperson said that 90% of the amateurs were drug free but should not be ignored because prevention was better than cure. Cuba had profiles of all athletes in the country. Their system could give a detailed history about any of their player. Mr Josephs' situation could have been avoided if South Africa had such a system. He asked if the Institute was the only organisation that conducted tests. He also asked if a person whose results had come back positive could ask for a second opinion.

Mr Bradbury replied that the Institute was the only agency in the country authorised to do testing without prior notice given to the person to be tested. The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Act was being amended in order to align it with new requirements. No sport federation could refuse testing of its athletes.

The meeting was adjourned.


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