Ashley Magwindiri

Drug abuse in sports involves the use of performance-enhancing substances in an effort to gain a competitive advantage. It may also involve the use of alcohol or marijuana, according to the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport. Prohibited substances differ from sport to sport, and also with gender. The list of prohibited substances is annually updated by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The most common performance-enhancing drugs used by athletes are anabolic steroids, human growth hormones and stimulants. BBC UK released a report in 2015 stating that athletes were being tested for drugs because it was alleged that the Russian government may have given its athletes performance-enhancing drugs for an unfair advantage in competitions. Drug abuse in sports may result from different stress factors such as injuries and pressure to perform excellently. The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport offers “Therapeutic Use Exemption” which is the authorization to take medicine listed under prohibited substances to treat an illness.

At national level, athletes who are selected in the South African Registered Testing Pool have to submit information about their whereabouts quarterly. The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport says, “Information about their whereabouts is essential to the anti-doping programs and to show a top-level athlete’s dedication to doping-free sport.” The Institute for Drug- Free Sport states that the National Sports Federations in South Africa has to abide by the terms of the National Anti-Doping program, which means all the anti-doping rules apply to members or license holders of a National Federation in South Africa. In 2017 Aphiwe Mboyiya, a boxing athlete, tested positive for two performance-enhancing drugs after his boxing event. Furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide were found in his urine samples. He was given an opportunity to be tested for a second time, however he turned down the offer. Mboyiya was suspended on 26 May 2017, and he is still under suspension. According to the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, if an athlete is found with performance-enhancing drugs in their system, it could lead to a four-year ban and no involvement in sport, including coaching. Assisting an athlete with doping could also lead to a ban. In 2011 Andrew Pretorius, a powerlifting coach, was charged with an anti-doping rule violation. Pretorius provided his daughter with Furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide in order to stabilize her weight. He was sanctioned to a six-year ban from 17 March 2011 to 18 March 2017.

 Illustration: Sally Hartzenberg

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