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Botswana in another doping scandal

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A pair of local rugby sevens national team players faces a four-year ban from sport after they failed a random doping test conducted last November at the African qualifiers’ tournament for this year’s Olympic Games held in South Africa.

The two players who turn out for two university clubs in Botswana were part of the 11-man squad that played against Tunisia, Morocco and Namibia in Pool C of the qualifiers played at Kempton Park Stadium until November 23. Information reaching Sun Sports is that the local organizing body of rugby was given until December 24 to have had its players respond to the findings of the test, but failed to comply with the requirement.

Had the players responded within the stipulated time, they would rather face a two-year ban. It is an added offence to fail to respond within the given time and there are claims that the local rugby body could not reach the players because official activities at rugby had already been halted for the festive period, and their office had already closed.

Responsive authorities have since declined to comment saying it was too early to say anything lest the case of the two be compromised. “We can’t share any detailed information for now to avoid the athletes and even the doping authorities being compromised,” a rugby official told Sun Sports.

Should the two players be found guilty, it will bring to four (4) the number of Botswana athletes to have tested positive in recent years after the Athletics’ duo of Amantle Montsho and Onalenna Baloyi were banned.

The Botswana rugby sevens team was made of Ketshedile Matenanga, Omphile Debula, Ernest Eddy, Lesedi Cherry, Alpheous Mokotedi, Kaelo Mogotsi, Jeremy Dobrowsky, Kagiso Molefhi, James Shamwaka, Emmanuel Ntshiwa, Koorapetse Lesotlho and Dent Patrick. They could not go past the group phase with only Kenya qualifying for the Olympics by emerging the eventual tournament champions.

For a long time, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has been putting measures in place to sensitise the local sporting fraternity about doping issues, but the latest scandal will call to question the extent to which local athletes take the ongoing doping education initiatives seriously.

BNOC CEO Tuelo Serufho was at pains this week when asked to comment on the rugby saga and their role in ensuring that such cases do not occur. “For now it will be difficult to comment in any great detail until the case has been concluded. Otherwise we risk prejudicing one or more of the parties involved in the case,” he told Sun Sports, adding: “As BNOC it will be difficult to tell how the case will conclude as due process is being followed. For now we can only encourage athletes, coaches and all other members of the entourages to acquaint themselves with issues of doping.”

Serufho expressed disappointment at the recurring doping scandals engulfing the country, saying by now they expect athletes and their immediate handlers to be wiser. “For starters, a list of banned substances is released on an annual basis, which the BNOC publishes on its website. Both the BNOC and the Africa Zone VI RADO deliver education programmes targeted at various groups including athletes, coaches and administrators. In 2015, a workshop was even held for medical practitioners,” he said.

The said players can still appeal the findings based on the first test, but they will then be subjected to a second B sample test which, should it also return positive, will see the players banned for a possible four years.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney

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CONFIDENT: Newly unveiled LOC is confident that the regional tourney will be a success

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.

The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.

Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.

For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.

He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.

According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.

Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

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Branch does it again

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Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.

The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.

At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.

Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.

Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.

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