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“More education about doping needed”

- By Vivienne Rowland

The culture of “winning at all cost” and pressure being put on the younger generation to perform in sport came under the spotlight with the launch of the University Anti-Doping Initiative between Wits, the University of Johannesburg and the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport.

The initiative, the first between education institutions and a sports organisation, will aim to prioritise education about anti-doping in South African sport, as well as increase research on the practice among university students and high school children.

The launch was attended by officials from Wits’ Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (CESSM), the Wits School of Therapeutic Sciences, the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDFS) and the National Department of Sport and Recreation.

Professor Judy Bruce, Head of the Wits School of Therapeutic Sciences, under which the CESSM falls, welcomed the guests and said that doping in sport has the same principle as cheating in academics. “When students are in a competitive environment, there is always the possibility of cheating. Therefore the likelihood of cheating to ‘win at all cost’ is very high,” said Bruce. “It is poignant that through this initiative, they have the academic institutions addressing doping in sport as a matter of importance.” Listen to Bruce.

Rodney Swigelaar, the Director of the Africa Office of the World Anti-Doping Agency, conveyed his message of support via a recording played at the launch. Listen to Swigelaar’s address.

Other speakers at the launch included Fahmy Galant, the General Manager of the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport; Adrian Carter, Head of Wits Sport; Marianne Viljoen, Senior Manager: Performance Excellence at UJ Sport; Professor Paul Singh from the National Department of Sport and Recreation; and Professor Demitri Constantinou, Director of the Wits CESSM.

Constantinou said that the decline of ethics in society forms the basis of the cheating adding that we need education in the broader community which in turn influences and places pressure on kids.

“We need to expand the initiative into existing curricula, for example into human movement studies or sciences. The mental preparation is important if we want to tackle this problem,” said Constantinou. Listen to Constantinou.

“Testing alone won’t help against doping in sport. We need to educate,” concluded Constantinou.

He said that a roadshow to educate health care professionals about doping in sport is on the cards, and that research will be expanded about the practise among school children and university students. 

The launch was concluded with a Question and Answer session between the audience members and the speakers - all sport experts in their own right - about the dangers and state of doping in the country.

Listen to the Q and A.