Lack of proper doping structures could cost basketball team a chance at FIBA World Cup

Lack of proper doping structures could cost basketball team a chance at FIBA World Cup
South Sudan Basketball team in action at a past FIBA World Cup Qualifier match in Kigali, Rwanda.

South Sudan National Basketball are just one win away from booking a maiden appearance at the FIBA World Cup.

But this dream—a paused national celebration, should it materialise—is now hanging on a cliff after a meeting of sports stakeholders revealed yesterday that the nation is yet to fully comply with anti-doping rules.​​

Owing to the little steps the basketball team has made, and the little the country has not done, a consultation on ratification of the international convention against doping in sport resolved that South Sudan needs to move fast to put in place proper legislation to avoid any mishap beyond February 2023.

Stakeholders are now warning that going to the worlds or any other major championship will be dependent on the opponents ‘goodwill and not the superb form of the ‘Bright Stars’.

Without structured doping mechanisms, any South Sudanese team or athletes stand to be disqualified from major competitions if the country is not admitted to the World Anti-Doping Agencies (WADA).​​

Only South Sudan and Guinea Bissau are among the countries in Africa that are yet to be compliant with WADA and RADO (Regional Anti-Doping Agency).

Every nation must comply and establish a national anti-doping body.

The South Sudan sports fraternity expressed concern about government’s failure to fulfil its obligation to register with WADA.

“For us to be accepted into WADA, there is a document that is needed from the government,” noted Tong Chor Malek, Secretary General for South Sudan National Olympic Committee.

Malek added that non-compliance might land the country into problems in future.

“It is simply the letter of commitment, which needs to be signed by the ministries of Youth and Sports, Finance, and Justice; then taken to the council of ministers to be approved,” ​​​he said.

The document will be tabled before the parliament and finally to the president to sign into law.

He claims that while it can be completed in a matter of days, the bureaucratic process is slowing the entire process.

“That is where we are as a sporting​fraternity. The ministries concerned failed to act on the document which has been lying in their offices for more than five years.”

According to Julius Banda, UNESCO’s country representative in South Sudan, it is crucial for South Sudan to step up and meet its obligations to be a part of the global convention against doping.

The UNESCO representative stressed the significance of South Sudan’s membership in WADA and RADO to safeguard the nation’s capacity to continue competing in international events, particularly in its primary sports of basketball, football, and athletics.

“You may never know that after qualifying for the FIBA World Cup next year, some countries that did not want the country will come up and raise a complaint, and automatically the country will be disqualified,” he stated.

He asked the government and sports federations to cooperate to ensure that the nation joins the anti-doping body, a powerful organization whose wrath has befallen some of the biggest sporting names like British’s Chris Froom, a four-time Tour De France champion and former Olympic women’s marathon champion, Jemima Sumgong of Kenya.

“It is a shame for South Sudan to appear among the non-compliance countries in anti-doping agencies, the process kicked off early, and it just needs a letter. We have done our part,” Stephen Lugga, president of the South Sudan National Olympic Committee.”

According to him, the Olympic Committee does not want South Sudan to be listed as having a non-compliance status.

He declared that it is past due for the nation’s government to assume responsibility for adhering to its commitments.

“Just one step and we become members of world anti-doping agencies,” the Olympic president stated.