“Doping would endanger Zim atheletes.”

HARARE – World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) accredited doctor Nicholas Munyonga believes Zimbabwe is far behind in educating athletes on the hazards of substance abuse saying local sportspersons would fail doping tests “anytime, any day.”

“When it comes to doping our athletes will fail. Why I say so it’s because of lack of information,” Munyonga said during a journalist forum last week.

“At the moment our education on doping is still in its infancy. We are at zero.”

The University of Zimbabwe-trained medical doctor said local sportsmen seemed to have awoken to the hazards of doping during Devon Chafa’s six months ban but that all fizzled out and athletes are back to their ways.

Chafa tested positive for a prohibited substance before the Zimbabwe-Egypt 2014 World Cup qualifier in Harare last year in June.

“It just caused panic because during those six months. I got countless athletes coming to me and asking ‘Doc is this medication okay?’, ‘Doc is this right? But after those six months the minds shut out and there was no awareness.”

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee medical adviser said doping tests were being carried out across various sporting disciplines but due to the secretive nature of the tests their efforts were not in the public domain.

“We carried out 16 out of competition tests for the recent Triangular Series. Eight tests for Zimbabwe (players), eight for Australia and four from South Africa,” Munyonga said.

“We have planned tests for the Confederation of African Rugby (Car) Sevens tournament to be held later in the year. We will do both out of competition as they are preparing for the event and in competition tests.

“We are going to do 100 tests for the African Zone 6 Games. Last year we did five tests for Dynamos players, a couple for CAPS United and several for division one, so that our federations are compliant.”

Munyonga said that many athletes are still sceptical about getting tested for substance abuse.

“We had challenges at Cottco last year. We targeted three teams they said ‘why are you targeting us?’ but that’s not the case,” he said.

“Anyone can be tested at any time without prior or advance notice. That’s why we tested Zinadine Zidane when he head butted Marco Materazzi’s (during the 2006 World Cup final), because that was not normal.

“So even when we test our two players each from both sides if you get a red card for a flying kick we can still test you.”

The long serving Warriors team doctor warned against over the counter drugs.

“70 percent of over the counter drugs contain banned substances,” he said.

He encouraged national associations to use the internet to acquire information on doping.

“The people I thought would take the lead are the associations who should have four to five education officers,” he said.

“Because right now there is nothing we are at zero. That’s why we have asked Unesco for a $20 000 grant to educate as many educators as possible. Remember our athletes come from far and wide.”

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