THE High Court has granted an interim order interdicting the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (SAIDS) from proceeding with disciplinary hearing against marathon queen ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka for allegedly evading a doping test last year.
Tjoka this week approached the High Court to compel SAIDS to lift its May 2019 suspension which has prevented her from participating in international competitions.
SAIDS suspended Tjoka from participating in any national and international competition after she allegedly evaded a doping test in 2018 when the Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) and SAIDS representatives visited her home in Sekamaneng, Maseru.
But Tjoka is not taking the suspension lying down and now wants the High Court to compel SAIDS to lift the suspension so that she can freely compete in competitions across the world.
Tjoka, who rose to stardom more than a decade ago and has since won South Africa’s Soweto Marathon for a record seven consecutive times, this week filed a an urgent application seeking to have her suspension nullified.
Lesotho National Olympics Committee (LNOC), RADO, the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) and SAIDS are cited as the first to fourth respondents respectively.
Tjoka wants all the four respondents to show cause why the purported provisional suspension by SAIDS from competing and/or participating in any authorised or organised sport by any amateur or professional league or any national or international level event dated 7 May 2019 shall not be declared unlawful, null and void and of no force or effect.
She also wants SAIDS to show cause why the court shall not declare that the institution does not have any authority to provisionally or at all suspend her for the purported violation of the fourth respondents’ anti-doping rules in as much as it has no application to the applicant.
Tjoka also wants SAIDS to show cause why it “shall not be declared to have no authority and/or jurisdiction to summon the applicant to appear before it in South Africa purportedly to hear and determine applicants’ alleged violation of the fourth respondents’ anti-doping rules allegedly committed by the applicant in Lesotho”.
The athlete wants RADO and SAIDS to pay the costs of the application and that the two shall not be restrained from proceeding with the disciplinary hearing against Tjoka which was supposed to be held yesterday (Wednesday).
“The second and fourth respondents shall not be restrained and interdicted from proceeding with the disciplinary/anti-doping hearing against the applicant, scheduled to take place on the 3rd of July 2019 at Rosebank in South Africa for alleged anti-doping violation of fourth respondents anti-doping rules allegedly committed in the Kingdom of Lesotho”.
In her founding affidavit filed in the High Court on Monday, Tjoka argued that she was not in the country in May this year when the RADO and SAIDS officials visited her home for doping tests. She therefore, wants her suspension to be declared unlawful, null and void.
“The complaint that I have in this application arises from the fact that the fourth respondent has purported to assume responsibility over me and charge me with an alleged doping violation.
“On the 7th October 2018 I was in South Africa to participate in a competition, namely the Spars Women’s Race at Emmarentia Park South Africa, when the events fully set out in the affidavit of ‘Mamakoa Majoro unfolded in my absence,” Tjoka said.
She said that it would appear that RADO members, who are responsible for implementation of anti-doping rules, went to her house together with SAIDS officials with the sole purpose of collecting samples for testing.
She however, said that she was not at her place on that particular day and that it was safe to infer that the fourth respondent went to her residence at the invitation and in collaboration with RADO officials.
“Subsequent to the arrival of the people referred to in Mamakoa’s affidavit, I later received a complaint from the fourth respondent alleging that I had evaded testing, in contravention of their anti-doping rules,” she said, adding that she responded to the merits of their allegations in a detailed response, denying that she had evaded their testing.
She however, argued that that SAIDS had no jurisdiction to suspend her as she is the member of LAAA.
“I am legally advised and verily believe that the fourth respondent has no authority to suspend me as it has purported to have done. I am a member of the LAAA and my not be suspended by SAIDS. The responsibility for testing and hearing burdens LAAA in terms of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF),” Tjoka said.
Tjoka’s coach Tsepang Thaba yesterday confirmed that the High Court had indeed granted his athlete the reliefs she sought
He however, said SAIDS yesterday also continued with their disciplinary processes although Tjoka was not present at their hearing scheduled for yesterday in Rosebank.