Local middle distance runner Lydia Jele is currently under provisional suspension from all athletics activities. This comes after the 400m runners allegedly tested positive for banned substances late last year. Speaking during a media briefing earlier this week, Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho said investigations are still ongoing and they are yet to hear from the relevant anti- doping authorities. “BNOC awaits the analytical findings and the final decision of authorities to determine the future of the promising female athlete,” Serufho said. Should Jele be found guilty, she is likely to be banned from competing in athletics for a period not less than four years.
Moreover, Jele is most likely to miss out on a lifetime opportunity if she is banned from athletics. The Olympian forms part of the nine athletes that were given the Olympic Solidarity scholarship for the 2017-2020 period. According to Serufho, the athlete will be withdrawn from the scholarship because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not sponsor athletes with current or previous doping cases. Meanwhile BAA spokesperson Ikgopoleng Ramatshaba said they will only contact Jele after the World Anti -Doping Agency (WADA) makes a ruling on her case.
As far as he was aware, the athlete is somewhere in the city doing nothing. On the other hand, Africa Zone 6 Regional Anti- Doping Organisation regional manager Andrew Kamanga is not a happy following the rise of the doping cases in the country. Kamanga said it is sad because they have left no stone unturned in educating athletes and sensitizing them about all banned substances. “It is not lack of trying on our side, we do everything in our power to educate them, we even gave them a list of all the prohibited substances,” he said.He said Botswana has been having unexpected mixed fortunes lately. Top athletes who they least expected would fall victim to doping have fallen into the trap one way or the other.
Kamanga sympathised with Jele saying she was at the peak of her career only for everything to come crumbling down when she least expected it. Kamanga is worried that should the situation remain the same, young and upcoming athletes might also find it hard to stay away from banned substances. The regional manager went on to say national associations should reinforce measures and rise to the occasion. “Doping is very serious and disturbing issue; we need associations to start taking it seriously. Majority of associations locally have no personnel dealing with anti-doping matters yet when athletes test positive we get shocked,” Kamanga said. He advised that Botswana should start testing athletes more often to prevent future surprises.
“From the little funds received from Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), associations should prioritise and reserve some for doping tests. One would be shocked as to how many doping cases we can find before athletes are caught at international level.”
Local boxers ready for regional tourney
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.
Branch does it again
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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