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Springboks allowed to fly flag following 'unnecessary hysteria'

By Jan De Koning
MARSEILLE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 01: South Africa line up for the anthems during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Pool B match between South Africa and Tonga at Stade Velodrome on October 01, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The Springboks will be able to fly the South African flag at their World Cup quarterfinal face-off against hosts France in Paris on Sunday.

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Zizi Kodwa, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, confirmed on Tuesday that they have instructed the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport to file an appeal against a World Anti-Doping Agency ruling that determined South African legislation is non-compliant with the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code.

“I have also instructed SAIDS to file a notice to challenge WADA’s non-compliance declaration against South Africa through the Court of Arbitration in Sport,” Minister Kodwa told a media briefing on Tuesday.

“I believe the grounds for appeal are strong and that the sanctions are not appropriate.

“The sanction as it pertains to the flying of the national flag has created unnecessary hysteria and punished athletes and players unfairly who are competing for the pride of South Africa.”

It was reported last week – as was first published on the WADA website Thursday, September 28 – that the Boks may be forced to compete under a neutral flag in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

During its meeting, the ExCo asserted non-compliance of three Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code). The two National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) in question are Bermuda and South Africa; and the Major Event Organization (MEO) in question is the Pan American Sports Organization (Panam Sports)

It all stems from a WADA meeting on September 22 – which made it clear that SAIDS were ‘not compliant’ with WADA regulations, as a result of the South African government’s failure to amend its outdated drug-free sports act.

South Africa had until Friday, October 13, the day before the World Cup quarterfinals, to comply.

However, the appeal will ensure the Boks can still fly the flag at Stade de France in Paris.

“The filing of the appeal will stave off the consequences of the non-compliance as it applies to the flying of the South African flag at regional, continental and world championships and events, organised by major event organisations,” the minister said.

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“This means that the flying of the South African flag at events such as the cricket and rugby World Cups will not be affected until CAS rules on this challenge.”

Minister Kodwa also slammed the suggestion that the Boks would have been prevented from singing their national anthem.

“I note that the issue of singing the national anthem has been conflated with this non-compliance matter in the political space to slander government and the ANC,” he said.

“The political barbs have ignored the rigid and uncompromising stance of WADA on this matter.

“South Africa is a constitutional democracy and enacting laws cannot just be done through the ‘stroke of a pen’.”

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The minister said they are determined to ‘fast-track’ legislation through parliament since the WADA announcement last month.

WADA

“The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and I have pulled out all the stops to resolve the non-compliance by getting the SAIDS Amendment Bill adopted expeditiously.

“I presented the bill to the cabinet.

“Last week the bill was approved by Cabinet and will now be tabled to parliament.

“I am confident that WADA will recognise these efforts as a commitment to pass the amended legislation and suspend the non-compliance declaration.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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