By Cheranka Mendis
The Institute of Sports Medicine is stepping up pressure to minimise and eventually stop the use of banned substances among local sportsmen, which is no longer a rare occurrence in the field of sports.
Calling a press meeting, the Institute’s Director General Prof. Arjuna De Silva stated that no sportsmen will be backed by the Institute if results prove that the person has been using substances that are included in the ‘prohibited list’ by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), unless a medicine has been prescribed by a doctor for health conditions, and unless the sportsmen/woman brings the matter to light before entering an event.
In the case of Shyamali Anusha, a sportswoman linked to the subject, De Silva stated that she had systematically listed the medication she was currently using along with doctor’s prescriptions and reasons. He said, “We can back her up because she systematically produced records relating to her health issue prior to taking part in the event. She did not hide it, nor was she trying to cheat,” he said.
“We need to create awareness and severely punish those who engage in such illicit matters. If we do not we will become a joke and lose respect in the international sporting arena.”
Several steps will be taken over the course of next few months to create awareness on the matter, Prof. De Silva noted.
The Institute now maintains a hotline 0772677677 for all inquiries on substances on the prohibited list. He stated that Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage will reveal the plans for awareness creation in the near future.
All sportsmen will be given a medical passport of sorts in which they will be asked to list down all medicines taken. “Also, as of now sports-personnel will have to fill in a ‘Therapeutic Use Exemption Form’ which will be available at the Institute. This must be filled on top of the doctor’s certification prior to an event if anyone is using any form of medication.” The form will soon be available online as well, he said. Taking the issue to a school level, De Silva noted that students and trainers will also be advised on use of various supplements that goes against the ‘prohibited list.’ WADA does not recommend any supplement whatsoever, he said. The reason is that in many cases supplements recommended by trainers, especially for body building etc includes various substances that are not included in the list of ingredients on its label. The Institute of Sports Medicine will soon meet with the Consumer Protection authority regarding the matter, De Silva said. The institute hopes to convince the Authority to past a special sticker saying ‘approved by the Ministry of Sports’ on certain supplements that can be used without negative effects. “The main issue is the lack of awareness. Some people do it without knowing. Certain cough syrups etc also contain substances that are in the prohibited list.
One of our key areas is to educate the locals on this and create proper awareness on what they should keep away from,” he said. “We do not want to destroy anyone or their careers but we will ensure that such illicit activities will be cut down sooner than later.” De Silva stated that any sportsman caught twice with banned substance usage stands to be permanently banned from any sport in the future.
– Pic by Upul Abayasekara