As part of their strategic priority to deter and eventually eliminate doping amongst local athletes, the National Anti-Doping (NADO) office has stepped up education measures for a wider reach of their targets.

Together with the South African Institute for Drug free sport, NADO hosted anti-doping educators training conference in Gaborone recently.

With Botswana registering positive cases of doping at an alarming rate in recent times, the need to educate athletes, coaches and parents has been one of NADO’s key areas of interest to promote clean sport.

NADO, who recently indicated they were short-staffed, have now added to their workforce to allow them to have a wider reach and network to athletes, which will enable them to easily disseminate information and training programs.

“The primary objective in so far as education is concerned is to grow impact. In line with our yearly plan, as we continue to roll it out, we held a training for our newly recruited anti-doping educators. You’ll recall that earlier this year we invited individuals to express interest to become anti-doping educators/volunteers. We needed to capacitate them this past weekend and ready them to serve,” NADO national coordinator, Fredrick Seno said.

Nijel Amos, the joint-third-fastest 800m runner in history, has been provisionally suspended after failing a drug test, together with Tlhalosang Tshireletso of triple jump.

“Moving forward, we want to reach all the corners of the country; our newly recruited educators will be stationed in almost all areas of the country. We want to decentralize our services, in particular, the education component. Education is a very critical element of any anti-doping program, of

course alongside other prevention measures like detection, law enforcements and others. We want to ultimately have an environment where doping is not an option,” Seno shared.

Seno acknowledged the support ushered by South African Institute for Drug free sport, adding that their experience in dealing with doping issues will go a long way to help Botswana achieve its long term goals in the fight against doping.

“The training was conducted by our good friends from South African Institutes for drug free sport. They are very experienced in these matters, they have been very helpful and we are very grateful; they were established in 1998 and are the founding members of WADA and we are relying on them for guidance in this exercise,” he said.

Despite being known to work closely with elite athletes, Seno has reiterated the importance of working with youngsters at grassroots level to sensitize them on the dangers of doping.

He said they have been working closely with Botswana Football Association (BFA), women football in particular, to spread the message of doping during the associations’ grassroots football festivals.

“We are not only focusing on the elites, we accept the fact that there are other stakeholders or demographics which are very key, remember grassroots are the feeders of our elite sport, so we are very much open to the idea of trying to ‘catch them young’,” Seno explained. Botswana Football League (BFL) teams have also been taken on board, with NADO engaging closely with the medical personnel of the clubs to relay messages on banned substance and dangers of doping.

Back in February earlier this year, at least six players of Township Rollers and Gaborone United were taken samples and inside information from NADO indicates that they all returned negative tests.