Friday 14 April 2017

Questions from gamers on drug testing.

Following my article "MSSA plans mandatory doping testing for its 2017 National Team Trials", a number of gamers have written questions to MSSA (South Africa's largest member based gaming organisation) in order to clarify the concept of drug testing.

Question: Testing for Adderall certainly makes sense and this can be seen as a great advancement to the sport and how seriously it is taken locally on a serious/competitive level. I do have to wonder though if the range of testing will include Cannabis as well? If so, what would the consequences be should a person be tested positive for Marijuana use? I would imagine that this substance will be exempt, as to my knowledge it's use has not been explicitly shown to be performance-enhancing - In fact, mainstream media seems to suggest a contrary effect

MSSA's response: Cannabinoids are included. Please refer to the list which may be reviewed on

Question: I see it is listed under S8- CANNABINOIDS -- ie, illegal "DURING COMPETITION" but not at "ALL TIMES" -- Presumably, this means that if the substance is found in the blood at the time of testing, no action can be taken against the Athlete, so long as they are not actively consuming it while at the competition venue / actually competing?

MSSA's answer: The difference is if they do out of competition testing and officials detect it, such officials will not take action. If officials test during a competition and they detect it, action shall be taken. The issue isn't when the substance is used, it is when the test is done.

Question: So that brings me to the next question: At what point in time does MSSA intend to conduct its mandatory tests? During, or before competition? Personally, I find it exceedingly harsh to disqualify an athlete for cannabis use if they're willing to abstain from it's use during the competition period

MSSA's answer: During the competition, as IeSF would.

Question: And when the use of consumption of cannabinoids is made 100% legal ? Currently its in-between decriminalization and legalization phase. Would it then still get you a disqualify even though if its legalized in SA? If so, then does Alcohol then also get you a disqualify?

MSSA's answer:  Legality has nothing to do with performance enhancement. Lots of drugs are legal to buy and possess but which are banned for being performance enhancing. You don't go to jail for taking them but you are banned from sport. Before you start debating whether it is performance enhancing, rather have that debate with the doping officials (ie SAIDS). If it is in your system when you are tested you are likely to be caught. (And alcohol is not a performance enhancer, and thus not on the doping list.) Just as athletes don't take cold and flu remedies before they compete, I am sure anyone can back off on using cannabis before they compete. It really isn't an essential for life.

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