Doping tests ditched

MASERU — The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has ditched plans to have all Premier League and first division players undergo compulsory medical and doping tests.

A pre-season medical test in football assesses, for example, a player’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems as well as his readiness for match performance.

Doping refers to the use of drugs, including steroids and substances that might be found in “normal” medicine, that enhance athletic performance.

Marijuana, commonly known as matekoane here, is not known as a performance enhancer but it is banned in professional and amateur sports because of the dangers it poses to a footballer or any other athlete.

In line with international football trends, Lefa had announced plans to impose compulsory medical tests and anti-doping measures for players plying their trade in Lesotho’s top two divisions starting this season.

But the move was met with fierce resistance from football clubs, forcing Lefa’s medical committee to indefinitely suspend the plans. The tests were going to be carried out free of charge.

“So far we’ve decided to suspend this project indefinitely,” Dr Teboho Lekhanya, chairperson of Lefa’s medical committee, told the Lesotho Times this week.

“We were forced to suspend it because the teams made noise saying they were against this project.”

The world football body Fifa views medical check-ups and anti-doping measures as key factors in the development and progress of the game at all levels.

Lekhanya, however, said Lefa would not give up on trying to educate local footballers and administrators on the necessity of medical tests and the dangers of using banned substances.

“We are now going to work more on education and persuasion on Premier League teams and players,” he said.

“We are yet to meet with the (Premier League) to discuss this issue and make them see the importance of conducting medical tests and (the dangers of) doping to top-flight teams.”

Meanwhile, Lekhanya said Lesotho had submitted its anti-doping regulations to Fifa’s medical panel for approval.

“In January this year, we submitted our anti-doping regulations to Fifa and we are still waiting for their approval,” he said.

“They are broad but we are targeting what we know is commonly used in our country like marijuana.”

“The players must always, when consulting a doctor, declare themselves as players to avoid being given medications that are not allowed in sports,” he added.

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