Uutoni cautions against doping

By John Tuerijama

Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service Erastus Uutoni has warned local athletes to refrain from using performance enhancing substances as a short cut to achieving glory, but to instead concentrate on improving their natural talent through hard work and training.

In an interview with Confidente recently, Uutoni said he attended a meeting on anti-doping, where he learnt the dangers of doping (prohibited substances) that are at times used by athletes. The minister warned that the issue of anti-doping was not being addressed and that the measures introduced by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were not strictly enforced by various sport umbrella bodies.

He said the use of prohibited substances was a serious violation of sport ethics and that each athlete participating in any event must be informed of the dangers of substance abuse.

“Although not many cases of substance abuse have been recorded, I call on our athletes to train hard in order to concentrate on their physical fit- ness and win honestly and not because of additional strength caused by substance usage,” said the minister. He added that Namibian sport adminis- trators should create an aware- ness campaign as the country is endowed with talent and hard workers bring in lots of medals from competitions.

“Awareness is key and learn- ing from athletes like Helalia Johannes, who captured the world through winning var- ious competitions, and not some athletes who after tests were conducted were stripped of their medals because of sub- stance use.” The minister said, if found guilty of doping fol- lowing tests, athletes can lose five to 10 years of their career, adding that doping has serious health and social consequences. He was concerned over the lack of anti-doping awareness campaigns and that coaches and trainers must be equipped with education through work- shops, as both coaches and trainers can be oblivious to athletes using prohibited sub- stances.

Uutoni said there is a state-of-the-art laboratory in Bloemfontein, South Africa and in Nairobi, Kenya that are required to test urine samples from athletes, and that Namibian athletes are no exception. “I do not want to see Namibian athletes being disqualified from competitions because they are found guilty of using prohibited substances.

“It is a loss to the country that has spent so much money in the preparation of athletes for major competitions, only to have their athletes sent back. A unit dealing specifically with anti-doping is seriously needed in Namibia that will independently focus on anti-doping campaign,” he said. He further said Namibia needs to fight against doping and that includes all sport codes, even boxing. In view of the number of athletes likely to compete in the 2020 Olympic qualification events he urged the contenders to refrain from using prohibited substances as a short cut to qualify for the Summer Games.

“As good sportsmen and women, athletes must train at all times and not rely on [illegal] substances as a solution to winning medals at events,” Uutoni said, adding that for- mer athletes like Frank Fredericks, as well as gold medallists Helalia Johannes and Jonas Junias Jonas, have untainted track records as they concentrated on working hard. They won through hard work, commitment and discipline, which included good behaviour.