Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
MORE shocking revelations about illegal substance taking in Zimbabwean swimming have emerged, with concerned parents describing the practice as prevalent, especially among well-off parents.
One drip takes between one and two hours and costs $140 at an upmarket clinic in the leafy Harare suburb of Borrowdale.
According to one parent, kids as young as nine years have been subjected to this illegal practice, which has been going on for a while. The kids were being given immune boosters through the prohibited intravenous infusions (IV treatment).
This, said the parent, is done two weeks before a major event and some unscrupulous parents knowingly subjected their kids to this treatment all in an effort to have them clock better times to enhance their chances of getting scholarships outside the country.
According to one message delivered through a WhatsApp chat group, parents that were interested in sending their kids for an immune booster at Borrowdale Trauma Centre had to book through one Julie Bond.
“If anyone is interested in sending their kids for an immune booster before they travel, please get hold of Julie Bond, (mobile number given). Borrowdale Trauma Centre has a new wing ‘Jet Fuel’ that offers a drip immune vitamin booster. Takes 1-2 hours and costs $140.00 cash. Please do not book yourself, Lynda has asked Julie to do group bookings of three kids at a time. Please contact Julie direct if anyone is interested. They also offer a recovery sports booster for $80,” reads the message sent by Bond through the chat group.
It also carried a flier showing what Jet Fuel does in one’s body.
Lynda Keown, who said she is an assistant to Dr Vivaki Solanki, the owner of Trauma Centre, confirmed there is such a programme, but denied that it was illegal.
“It’s just a vitamin booster. I only do the bookings, I don’t administer the medication. Talk to the doctor who does that,” said Keown.
Immune booster is administered through the IV treatment method, which is prohibited.
Efforts to contact Dr Solanki were unsuccessful as his mobile number was not going through.
“It doesn’t matter what the kids are taking, it’s the method which is being used which is illegal under WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). We know that some of the substances they have been taking are illegal on their own and this thing has been going on with the full knowledge of some officials and influential parents,” said another parent.
According to WADA, Intravenous (IV) infusions have been included on the List of Prohibited Substances and Methods under section M2 Prohibited Methods, chemical and physical manipulation since 2005. They are prohibited both in and out of competition.
IV infusions are included on the Prohibited List mainly because some athletes could use this prohibited method to increase their plasma volume levels; mask the use of a prohibited substance and distort the values of their Athlete Biological Passport.
In sports with weight classifications, athletes may be encouraged to undertake significant, accelerated weight loss to qualify for a competition and then use IV infusion to rapidly rehydrate. This practice invokes issues of athlete health and safety.
An IV infusion or injection is the supply of fluid and/or prescribed medication by means of a syringe or “butterfly” needle, directly into a vein.
Infusions or injections of 50ml or less per six-hour period are permitted unless the infused/injected substance is on the Prohibited List.
Infusions or injections of more than 50ml per six-hour period are prohibited unless the infused/injected substance is administered during a hospital admission, surgical procedure or clinical investigation.
Bond refused to comment yesterday, referring all questions to the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) or Zimbabwe Aquatic Union (ZAU).
ZOC last week denied that it was conducting investigations on the matter, with chief executive officer Anna Mguni saying they can only act if there has been a complaint. ZAU president Mary Kloppers is believed to be out of the country.