Adoption of the SAIDS Bill is a game changer – Zizi Kodwa

Adoption of the SAIDS Bill is a game changer – Zizi Kodwa

Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture Zizi Kodwa was a relieved man on Tuesday after the National Assembly finally passed the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) Amendment Bill.

Kodwa has described the adoption of the SAIDS Bill as a game changer for South African sport.

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This means that SAIDS now finally complies with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) World Anti-Doping Code of 2021 and SA national teams and international athletes can look forward to campaigning in international events without worrying about non-compliance issues.

Just a few weeks before the Springboks lifted their fourth Webb Ellis trophy during the Rugby World Cup in France in October 2023, there were concerns that the team could have done without listening to their national anthem and have the rainbow nation flying if this bill had not been formulated.

In September 2023, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee had recommended that the then South African legislation was non-compliant, and this is a decision that was later endorsed by WADA’s executive committee. SA and Bermuda were the only two countries that were yet to update their regulations after the new WADA code came into effect in 2021.

This forced the SA government through the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture, and SAIDS to come up with a plan to resolve this non-compliance, and the Amendment Bill was submitted to the cabinet and approved. After the Bill was submitted to Parliament, it was debated by Members of Parliament and later adopted.

Kodwa had promised five months ago that before the sixth Parliament concludes its business, this matter would have been resolved and the 26th of March 2024 - marked that day.

"The adoption of the SAIDS Bill today by Parliament is really a game changer. The consequences or failure to adopt the Bill to comply with the WADA code would have been too severe, not only to the sport but to the reputation of the country. 

"Remember the Notice said if we are not able to amend the Bill, to make sure that we deal with issues which we identified as non-compliant, it's a risk to the reputation of the country.

Our athletes and our national teams would not have been able to participate globally and continentally. And they would not have been able to fly our flag at international events as well to sing the national anthem, and that would have been disastrous. 

"We know the power of sport, it unites the people, we know what it has done in the recent past and therefore it would have reversed a lot of things that we had achieved over a short period of time.

"All our federations now, are guaranteed and assured that the issue about the flag and national anthem is no longer an issue. We are happy that even WADA few weeks back, has already seen the draft and they are happy with it. 

"Within six months, when we heard about the WADA Notice, we worked around the clock to make sure that we met the deadlines. We saved the country because the reputation and the catastrophe of implementing the WADA consequences were going be too much for this country as a sporting nation," concluded a happy Kodwa after the SAIDS Bill was adopted in Parliament. 

This is a sigh of relief for athletes who are currently busy, working hard to meet the qualifying times and distances and teams that are competing to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games between July and August.