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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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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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