June 25, 2024

SA govt to fight WADA’s decision to amend outdated Drug-Free Sport Act

CAPE TOWN – The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has vowed to challenge the decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after failing to meet the deadline for amending the outdated Drug-Free Sport Act.

Minister Zizi Kodwa at the media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday announced that the government will be appealing WADA’s decision to prevent SA national teams from flying the national flag and singing of the national anthems.

WADA’s executive committee later endorsed the decision.

Kodwa instructed the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) to challenge the declaration through the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS).

He said he has pulled out all the stops to resolve the non-compliance by getting the SAIDS Amendment Bill adopted expeditiously by Cabinet and will now be tabled to parliament.

“I have also instructed SAIDS to file a notice to challenge WADA’s non-compliance declaration against South Africa through the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS),” said Kodwa.

“I believe the grounds for appeal are strong and that the sanctions are not appropriate.

“The sanction as it pertains to the flying of the national flag has created unnecessary hysteria and punished athletes and players unfairly who are competing for the pride of South Africa.”

Kodwa has also mentioned that the government will be undertaking steps to see who dropped the ball on the matter from their side.

He revealed the investigation would be done and he won’t be making any speculation until such time answers have been presented to him.

“I also think it should be irresponsible of me if I don’t take particular steps to answer the question. So the only appropriate way is to investigate for me what happened,” he said.

“And I think unless that investigation is done and completed, I don’t think it would be appropriate to make speculations.

“Otherwise, I’ll be looking for shadows. You’re right about the process and your time, but I think the investigation must be able to point out to me what happened. So I won’t be able to make it.”

According to SAIDS Chief Executive Officer Khalid Galant, they received communications from WADA in October 2022 of non-compliance.

At that time, SAIDS had already started with the sports integrity legislation process and had public meetings to discuss the matter with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the government two weeks later.

“Just to give you background to that question, South Africa was part of the audit cycle by WADA in 2022. So as part of a bunch of countries that were audited on the non-compliance legislation the non-compliance, we were one of two countries,” said Galant.

“There was another Caribbean country that was identified in this cycle. So that was done in 2022.

“We received a notification from WADA in October 2022 that we were non-compliant. We had already started on what we refer to as sports integrity legislation.

“We had a public consultation meeting in November, which was about two weeks after that notice from WADA with SASCOC and all the national federations, including the government.

“That process of comprehensive sports integrity legislation that would have brought us then in compliance with the code and with other precepts of global sport had to be stalled when WADA sent this non-compliance and gave us this strict deadline.

Galant added that WADA was weren’t prepared to accept the process of public consultation and the timeline for the normal propagation of law and that’s how the matter came to be in this situation.

Image: SportArtsCultur / Twitter

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