As the Commonwealth Games approach, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng has warned local athletes to be wary of anything that may contain banned substances at the oncoming.
Olopeng was speaking at the Commonwealth Games team sendoff ceremony in Gaborone recently.
He said the issue of doping in sports remained the biggest concern to sports leadership and governments. “We are signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code and we ratified the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention in 2008,” he noted. “This was in testament of our commitment to comply with the anti-doping protocols.”
Botswana has so far registered four cases that are fully completed with the affected athletes already sanctioned. Cases of two track athletes suspected to have used banned substances from December 2017 to-date are currently being investigated.
Olopeng uses the opportunity to appeal to the private sector for more investment and support in sports, saying the government could not go it alone. “My ministry is doing all it can to ensure that there are funds available for our teams to compete in world events,” he said. “A bigger and better budget, supplemented by the private sector, can assist out teams to bring back exciting results.”
This year’s games are billed for Gold Coast, Australia from 4 to 15 April. Botswana is sending a total of 28 athletes to compete in lawn bowls, swimming, boxing, athletics and weight lifting. Their target is to bring home eight medals.
For his part, the President of Commonwealth Games Botswana (CGB), Colonel Botsang Tshenyego, said his organization would never tire of educating athletes in doping. “I therefore take this opportunity to caution the team that they are representing the country and should make us proud,” Tshenyego said. “Wear the blue, black and white colours with pride. Do not engage in acts that may impact negatively on you and Botswana.”
Botswana has been participating in the Commonwealth Games since 1974, reaching a medal tally of 12 from bowling, boxing and athletics to-date.