Steroid Doping Appears Rife with Boxers
Cape Town, 27th September, 2011 - Latest doping figures show that anabolic steroid doping amongst boxers is rife, with a culture of 'I won't really be tested' prevailing.
This is according to SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport's CEO, Khalid Galant, who says that figures published in the Institute's annual report show that drug abuse by professional boxers is bad, with four positives out of 87 tests reported for the period April 2010 to March 2011.
"A large part of the reason for the high number of positives is that professional boxers often train by themselves or only with other boxers so they tend to be isolated from other general aspects of sport outside of boxing training," he says. "This has made it challenging to get anti-doping information through traditional sports forums to boxers. The level of awareness on anti-doping issues among our boxers is very low, and in spite of the wide publicity given to doping offenses among boxers, there appears to be a culture of I won't really be tested."
While all four positives were steroids, Galant says that steroids are not necessarily an intentional drug of choice for boxers. "Rather, I have seen more and more boxers use sports supplements and being duped by the advertising claims of the sports supplements that promise muscle gains and longer stamina."
Galant says that many of these sports supplements contain banned steroids, which are one of the primary reasons that boxers are then caught doping with steroids.
"Traditionally, our professional boxers, many of who became world champions, relied on fairly rudimentary sources of nutrition to fuel their performance," he explains.
"Boxing is a sport that has a very high skill and speed component to it, and obviously strength is an important factor too. The promised performance gains of sports supplements and steroids have no bearing on improved boxing skills. Boxers are not only increasing their risk by using sports supplements, but also wasting their money as the boxing performance gains would be minimal."
When an athlete tests positive again, during his/her suspension period, especially for a different substance, the repercussions are more severe. Boxer Jared Lovett was given a 16 year ban, while still carrying out his 2 year suspension. In the Lovett case, he tested positive for a different steroid from his original doping offense, indicating that he continued to engage in doping activities, even during his ban from sport, Galant explains.
He says that it is important to warn boxers on the risks of doping and how they could face the end of their careers should they be caught doping.
"Many of our professional boxers, especially those from Eastern Cape, are dependent on their professional boxing careers as their primary source of livelihood," he adds. "When a boxer is slapped with a ban, even as short as three months, it can have a severe impact on his income and livelihood. A boxer with a doping stigma may also be considered too high of a risk for boxing promoters to want to sign them."
To help counteract the boxing doping problem, the Institute has announced that it is partnering with Boxing SA in delivering an outreach programme to educate boxers on the dangers and risks of taking prohibited substances.
The educational road show is taking anti-doping education to boxers into the traditional nodes of boxing in the country, such as the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng.
Loyiso Mtya, Boxing SA's operations manager says that there is little or no knowledge among SA's boxers and trainers with regard to banned substances and the effects they have during and after contests.
"That also goes for the side effects of such substances," he says. "We have to address the situation where all our boxers plead ignorance during the hearings for doping offenses. "We hope that the education road show will assist our boxers and trainers to learn about substances and medicines they may or may not take in order to continue to box professionally."
Debby Reader - Tin Can PR