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Anti-doping education focus essential

  • Dr. Patti Symonette.

Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: Apr 25, 2012

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It is essential for anti-doping education in this country to be ongoing. Our athletic program is broad. It stretches from north to south over the archipelago.

Our elite athletes are fully aware of the international anti-doping code signed on to by most countries of the world. They understand from personal experiences the testing process and the importance of an anti-doping program to ensure as best as is possible, fair competition. Junior athletes from The Bahamas who have been engaging in regional and international sports, know of the world anti-doping mission as well.  So do our student/athletes who are involved in programs in their respective institutions abroad.

It must be recognized though that the majority of the locally-based young (and some older) athletes who have not been afforded the necessary exposure, know very little or nothing about the anti-doping program. Well, there is an organization called the Bahamas

Anti-Doping Commission (BADC). It is of course, a most recent development, so it figures that an educational program would be high on the BADC's agenda.

Charged with leading the educational thrust of the BADC is Dr. Patti Symonette. She had the opportunity recently to provide information about anti-doping to a group of young ladies. Reference is to the national under-17 female soccer squad.

Dr. Symonette conducted a seminar upon the request of the Bahamas Football Association (BFA). It was a well-timed event. The team is about to embark on the most significant soccer venture in the history of The Bahamas. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) stages its tournament final in Guatemala May 2-10 and The Bahamas is one of the eight best teams In the region.

There is indeed an anti-doping focus at major sporting events, so athletes need to be educated. Dr. Symonette primed the under-17 girls.

"Say no to doping in sports. Know what you are putting into your body. If you are not certain... don't take it... ask questions first. Know that some substances are prohibited in and out of competition. A prohibited substance list is available to every player, parent and coach," informed Dr. Symonette.

What about athletes who have a particular health issue that needs treatment by medication that is on the prohibited list?

"As an athlete, you might have an illness or condition that requires a certain medication. If this medication appears on the prohibited list; you may be granted Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) which gives permission to take it. If your health will be significantly impaired if you do not take the substance; if the substance does not enhance your performance beyond what brings you back to normal health; if there are no alternative treatments available, TUE is a way to ensure that you are able to obtain treatment for a legitimate medical condition... even if that treatment requires a prohibited substance or method," Dr. Symonette explained.

Such education platforms on anti-doping are good and yes, pivotal as the world sports stage expands, with our athletes figuring prominently in the process.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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