South Africa

SA’s flag sanction is not an appropriate punishment

Boks fans

Over the next few weeks, in France and India, we will see the impact of bureaucracy in all its might.

At both the rugby and cricket World Cup tournaments, we’re unlikely to see the national flag being flown from next weekend.

And at first, it might seem shocking to hear that the reason for this is because the country is not complying with global anti-doping rules. But that’s not really the case. In terms of trying to stamp out doping, South Africa hasn’t actually done anything wrong.

The SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) is still testing athletes and catching cheats.

The only problem is that the government has not updated its anti-doping legislation in line with the global code which was amended a couple of years ago. In short, some documents need to be updated and politicians seem to be dragging their feet.

According to the sports ministry, the delay has been caused because legislators need to ensure any changes are in line with our nation’s robust constitution. But the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says they need to hurry up.

The real issue here, however, is that the punishment we’re facing doesn’t fit the “crime”.

Not that I’m offering an alternative. I don’t really know how they would go about it, but the issue should be handled by WADA, SAIDS and the SA government.

Instead, the people who will be most affected – sports teams, athletes and fans – can do nothing about it. It’s a bit like telling a kid they can’t have dessert until another kid finishes their food.

Imminent sanctions

In all their playoff matches at the Rugby World Cup, the Springboks will compete without the national flag being raised, and according to reports, we won’t hear the anthem either.

In India, the national cricket team will face the same restrictions for most of their World Cup games, after the sanctions take effect on Friday.

We all know how much these teams (the Boks in particular) raise national morale when they compete, and it all starts when they link arms to sing the anthem. We feel the same gees when we see our flag.

And as much as it’s going to take some wind from our sails as spectators, the players are going to feel it even more.

It seems unnecessary and, considering the players haven’t broken any anti-doping rules, a little unfair.

Hopefully the organisations responsible for ensuring this issue is resolved are able to find a more appropriate way to reach a resolution.

The rest of us can do nothing about it. We finished our food. Where is our dessert?