Jele loses Olympic Scholarship

17th January 2018
TOUGH TIMES…Jele (R) in a race last year Source:The Midweek Sun

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 According to Serufho, the athlete will be withdrawn from the scholarship because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not sponsor athletes with current or previous doping cases.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.”

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