Superb performances, national records, PBs and finally a medal – all that was missing from the World Athletics Road Running Championship in Riga was the South African flag.
If anyone was wondering about the missing flag, it was banned from display because South Africa is no longer WADA compliant. From what I understand, every country in the world except South Africa and Bermuda have managed to update their doping legislation to be compliant. Whether this is another failure of our Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, tardiness from SAIDS, some of the “lazy blazers” within sports administration being asleep at the wheel or a combination of all three is unclear.
The WADA announcement from 22 September can be found here: https://www.wada-ama.org/en/news/wada-compliance-update-following-executive-committee-meeting-22-september
The non-compliance is a result of legislation not being in line with the 2021 Code. According to this government press release (https://www.gov.za/speeches/department-sport-arts-and-culture-minister-hon-zizi-kodwa-wada-decision-south-africa’s-non ) from Minister Zizi Kodwa, “We have worked tirelessly to amend legislation as recommended by WADA.” Clearly “working tirelessly” has a different meaning in government circles. The legislation should have been in place in 2021 and the press release does not make any commitments to timelines for resolution.
Doesn’t look like many of the news agencies have picked up on this but there is one article from David Isaacson here: https://www.timeslive.co.za/sport/2023-09-22-south-africa-declared-non-compliant-by-world-anti-doping-agency/
I’ve included a document detailing the consequences of our non-compliance. Apart from the flag not being flown (according to Isaacson’s article, “It’s not immediately clear if this will affect the flying of the South African flag at the rugby and cricket world cups.”), South Africa will no longer receive WADA funding (unfortunately this is good news for the drug cheats as SAIDS’ resources are already stretched) and South Africa cannot host any “regional, continental and World Championships”. It’s also unclear whether the latter applies only to athletics or all sporting codes.
The tardiness of South African officialdom is juxtaposed by the performance of our athletes in Riga. Highlights include:
- Ryan Mphahlele (3:57.35) and Carina Viljoen (4:39.01) setting new South African records in the mile.
- Tayla Kavanagh (15:50) set a South African record for the 5k.
- The South African men’s team (Thabang Mosiako – 59:52; Stephen Mokoka – 1:00:29 and Elroy Galant – 1:00:56) earned the bronze medal in the half marathon.
This looks to be another case where our athletes are achieving success on the sports field despite, rather than because of, the administration.
I will update this article with additional information if and when replies to my queries are received from SAIDS, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and / or Athletics South Africa.
Photo Credit: The ‘missing flag’ photo was kindly supplied by Norrie Williamson (who is in Riga to present on technical issues and regulations for the World Athletics Road Running Conference).Follow Running Mann: