‘Malaysia needs clear roadmap, onus on sports associations to curb doping violations’

The integrity of a sport is often tainted when a doping violation by an athlete surfaces.

Malaysia is no stranger to such issues, with athletes often hogging the limelight for the wrong reasons after testing positive for banned substances. A case in point was at the last Malaysia Games, when two winning weightlifters failed their anti-doping tests.

Ignorance is not a defence, says legal expert Danaindran Rajendran, who also sits in the Anti-Doping Agency of Malaysia (Adamas) results management committee.

“The frequency of doping violations is considerably less in well-established associations, compared to sports bodies that oversee weightlifting, or track and field,” said Danaindran.

“Have these associations put in enough resources to deal with doping issues? We need to examine, to see if these associations are truly carrying out (anti-doping) exercises, and if their athletes really understand the consequences of using banned substances.”

Danaindran said those implicated in doping were mostly up-and-coming athletes, eager to make their mark.

“The governing bodies and other stakeholders will say that they have done enough to spread awareness, and had spoken to the athletes. But is that really enough? Do the athletes truly understand the magnitude and consequences?

“It’s time for a clear roadmap to tackle this menace in Malaysia. This roadmap should then be adopted by associations at all levels, from the national level, to the states, and districts.

“It (the launch) shouldn’t be just ‘window dressing’ for the programme. There needs to be a proper and thorough implementation, with the setting of benchmarks for the next three to five years. There must be tangible deliverables, and the progress of the roadmap must be monitored,” he said.

Danaindran was speaking about the integrity of athletes, in conjunction with Sport Integrity Global Alliance’s (SIGA) Sport Integrity Week 2023. Several events are being held from Sept 2-9 in various cities around the world to create conversations and take concrete action with regard to sport integrity.

Twentytwo13 is SIGA’s sole permanent media partner from Asia.

Danaindran, who is the general counsel at the Asia School of Business, added that the governing bodies of the various sports must shoulder the responsibility when their athletes are implicated. He added athletes cannot claim ignorance or pull out the victim card when they are caught.

“There can no longer be excuses … of an athlete saying ‘I didn’t know’. With the level of technology and information available online, these excuses no longer hold water.

“Adamas cannot be everywhere. The accountability lies with the governing bodies. If we want to penalise a 17-year-old, we need to ask ourselves, what about the guardians of the sports? Are they articulating effectively to their athletes that they shouldn’t take drugs?”

Danaindran, who is among the founding members of the Sports Law Association of Malaysia, and who now sits in its committee, said the corporate sector could also play a role in aggressively promoting anti-doping practices.

“Companies should consider this as part of their corporate social responsibility and promote new heroes who carry the message that drugs will kill an athlete’s career.

“We don’t see a weightlifter going on record to say ‘no’ to drugs. In New Zealand and Australia, for example, it’s not uncommon for their sporting icons to speak about such matters, to influence the younger athletes to lead a healthy sporting life.”

He also agreed that education and political will were crucial in addressing the issue.

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