Despite Malawi being signatory to the international anti-doping pact, the country has no laboratory equipment to test and guard against athletes that use drugs to enhance performance, Weekend Nation has established.
This means there can be room for cheating in our local competitions. Regrettably, the situation is the same in all countries in Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region save South Africa.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has acknowledged that without laboratory equipment to check athletes, the status of doping cases cannot be measured or determined.
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said football players are only tested for drug use at international assignments.
“The equipment is very expensive so it is only when our players are on international duty that they get tested. It is Fifa that does the testing,” said Nyirenda.
“What we are doing now is to lobby for the equipment so that we can be doing the testing locally. The equipment is so expensive that we cannot afford it, but it is vital that we conduct our own tests to ensure that there is no room for cheating as the use of drugs is cheating,” he said.
Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) also admitted to Weekend Nation that they have never tested athletes locally.
“We have never done that in the history of athletics in the country. This puts us at a disadvantage because even medical drugs which we use normally such as Panado may have elements of performance enhancement and when we go out there we might find ourselves in hot soup,” said AAM vice-president Charles Senti.
He said although the country is yet to register cases of drug use at international level, they cannot rule out some athletes using performance enhancing drugs intentionally or unintentionally; hence, the need for the testing equipment.
Senti has since welcomed the formation of the Malawi Anti-Doping Organisation (Mado) which he said will help provide mechanism for testing.
The Mr. Malawi contest, which is a highly intense sport, also has no checks to ensure that no athlete uses drugs to enhance endurance.
“We do not have the capacity in terms of equipment. It is unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do about it. What we do is to discourage athletes against drug use. We talk about it a lot, but there is no way to enforce as we have no capacity,” said Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Association of Malawi (Wbam) president Richard Kuwali.
Malawi Olympic Committee (MOC) said all its affiliates have been registered by Mado, whose mandate is to ensure that all athletes are tested before and after events.
“We are urging all our affiliates to submit annual activities to enable us liaise with Mado to test the athletes,” said MOC president Oscar Kanjala.
Newly elected Mado chairperson James Mwenda said they will soon start enforcing mandatory tests in all sports disciplines affiliated to Sports Council.
“Since we do not have the necessary equipment, we will be sending urine and blood samples to South Africa for testing,” said Mwenda.
He, however, said the long-term plan is to lobby government to assist them to acquire the equipment.
“We will have to engage government on how we can acquire this equipment,” he said.
Weekend Nation research has revealed that in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region it is only South Africa that has anti-doping testing equipment.