/ 5 October 2023

Springboks and Proteas could be flagless as SA fails to comply with World Anti-Doping Code

South Africa V Tonga Rugby World Cup France 2023
Do the South Africans have enough left in them to put in one more never-say-die game? (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Imagine the Springboks walking out for their Rugby World Cup quarter final, but not being able to fly the South African flag or sing the national anthem.

This might be the case after the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said South Africa had failed to fully comply with its latest anti-doping code. The Proteas could face the same fate at the Cricket World Cup if the country does not comply with the revised code by 13 October. 

Wada said 700 countries had accepted the revised anti-doping code, with only South Africa and Bermuda as the outliers. 

“The two National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) in question are Bermuda and South Africa; and the major event organisation (MEO) in question is the Pan American Sports Organization (Panam Sports),” the 23 September statement read.

“In the cases of the Bermuda and South Africa NADOs, the non-compliance is a result of legislation not in line with the 2021 Code.”

If South Africa fails to comply within the next 9 days, then Wada’s whip will fall on the  national teams and the consequences will be that the country will not be awarded the right to host regional, continental and world championships and events organised by MEOs. South Africa’s flag will also not be flown at such events.

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa noted Wada’s statement and expressed his disappointment, but assured South Africans that his department was doing its best to comply with Wada’s latest code. 

“We have worked tirelessly to amend legislation as recommended by Wada. There has also been input by Wada in working with us to draft Saids’ (South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport) amendment bill, which will now be taken through the South African Constitutional process of finalising a bill,” Kodwa said.

“It is disappointing that South Africa has been found to be non-compliant despite this undertaking to pass legislation which meets the world anti-doping code. I officially communicated with Wada president Witold Bańka on South Africa’s position, and have requested to meet with him urgently.”

The minister said the sports department would continue its efforts to get the amendment bill adopted expeditiously.

But in the meantime, critics will ask; where was the urgency to comply with Wada before the consequences were revealed?