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19 November 2012 at 13:13 - Posted by Midrand

Toughening up on schools drugs tests


Pupils who use drugs - steroids or dagga - will face expulsion if a new proposal to combat doping in schools is adopted.

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that three rowers at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg had admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs. Another 10 at the school are awaiting the results of drug tests.

Sports physician Jon Patricios was quoted as saying that South Africa was the worst country in the world when it came to doping in schools. But that could change if the institute's proposal, to be discussed with school representatives, is accepted.

The institute at present tests at a school only when asked to do so by the headmaster.

Under the proposed new system, schools that cooperate with the institute in testing will be accredited by it as compliant.

The Times understands that schools that refuse to cooperate would risk being shunned by accredited schools.

Accreditation would be renewed each year.

The proposed minimum punishment for taking drugs such as steroids, stimulants, growth hormones and masking agents would be suspension from all sports for three months; for cannabinoids and narcotics it would be for two weeks.

The maximum penalty in all instances would be expulsion from the school.

This is unlikely to appease staunch anti-doping critics, such as Patricios, who has criticised the three-month ban of the King Edward VII rowers as inadequate.

According to the proposal, all positive tests would be confidential, with only the principals and parents being informed. The statistics of positive tests, however, would eventually be made public.

Pupils who refuse to be tested could face disciplinary action.

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