Doping tops athletics AGM agenda

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Mikia Kalati

The Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) is set to hold its annual general meeting (AGM) this Saturday in Maseru.

According to LAAA public relations officer, Sejamane Maphathe, top of the agenda would be the recent suspension of three athletes—‘Mamoroallo Tjoka, Ramelefi Motsieloa and Sekeke Lesole— who had tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs.

Tjoka, dubbed the marathon queen due to her dominance in local and South African races, tested positive after winning the 2014 High Altitude Summer Marathon for a record third time and was subsequently stripped of the title.

Lesole also tested positive at the Mokhotlong race after coming third in the male category of the 42.2  kilometre race while Ramotsieloa tested positive while running in South Africa.

Both Tjoka and Lesole have already been suspended for two years while the LAAA is yet to rule on Ramotsieloa.

But according to Maphathe, this and other challenges facing local athletics would be discussed during Saturday’s AGM.

“Of course, we are worried as LAAA, so the aim is to find ways to help our athletes avoid facing similar problems in future,” Maphathe said.

“We will be running campaigns ahead of next month’s High Altitude Summer Marathon to try and educate our athletes about what they can eat, drink and use for treatment to avoid putting their careers in jeopardy over banned substances.”

Maphathe also said the association would need to prepare for next year’s Olympic Games to be held in Brazil.

“The Olympics are coming up next year, so we need to have a big pool of athletes qualifying for the Games as only a handful have qualified so far,” said Maphathe.

Sprint king, Mosito Lehata, has already booked a place at the Brazil Games, while long distance runners have a chance to do the same at the weekend’s Soweto Marathon .

“We have a few athletes who have booked their place at the Olympic Games. Lebenya Nkoka was the last to do so in the Cape Town Marathon in September although he did not win the race and only managed 8th place.

“But we need to help more athletes qualify for the Games and that can only happen with good planning.”

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