Springboks and Proteas face national flag ban after SA falls foul of World Anti-Doping Code

Springboks and Proteas face national flag ban after SA falls foul of World Anti-Doping Code
South Africa has not updated its anti-doping code and has fallen foul of the World Anti-Doping Code's mandatory compliance requirements. (Photo: Supplied)

South Africa has less than 10 days to comply with the World Anti-Doping Code or the Springboks and Proteas will find themselves unable to fly the country’s flag at their respective World Cups.

Next week’s Rugby World Cup 2023 quarterfinal might see the Springboks playing under a neutral flag. Ditto the Proteas at the Cricket World Cup in India which starts on Thursday.

That’s because the South African government has not met a deadline to amend the outdated drug-free sport act to comply with the latest World Anti-Doping Code (Wada) that came into force in 2021. 

The Code is a global policy that is agreed and adopted by both the sports movement and governments from around the world (public authorities).

Fans at the Rugby World Cup 2023 match between South Africa and Scotland at Orange Velodrome on 10 September 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

Wada’s revised anti-doping code came into effect on 1 January 2021 and all member countries are expected to comply. To date, more than 700 sporting bodies and federations have accepted the new code.

On 23 September 2023, Wada issued a statement confirming that South Africa had not updated its anti-doping code and has fallen foul of Wada’s mandatory compliance requirements and now faces consequences.

If South Africa has not complied fully by 13 October, the first steps of the consequences of non-compliance will start. And one of those consequences is not being allowed to participate under a national flag.

“Wada wishes to update stakeholders regarding the Executive Committee’s decision to endorse 10 recommendations of Wada’s independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC),” a statement by Wada read.

“During its meeting, the Exco asserted non-compliance of three Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) with the World Anti-Doping Code (Code).

“The two National Anti-Doping Organisations (Nados) in question are Bermuda and South Africa; and the Major Event Organization (MEO) in question is the Pan American Sports Organization (Panam Sports).

“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.”

jansen odi markram, World Anti-Doping Code

Aiden Markram of the Proteas. The Proteas will also be impacted by South Africa’s non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. (Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Embarrassing situation

It’s an embarrassing situation for South Africa, especially as the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) had warned the government and federations of the consequences of non-compliance a year ago.

Saids is an independent body that oversees anti-doping programmes in South Africa. It started the process of drafting a new sports integrity bill in 2022.

Saids held its first formal gathering with sports federations and mother body the South African Sports and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in Johannesburg on 25 November 2022.

In April 2023, Saids sent out a draft bill to all federations and Sascoc outlining the compliance regulations. They had until 5 May for comments and amendments. After that deadline, Saids reviewed comments and inputs and made changes where appropriate.

A second and final round of consultation was stalled before the draft legislation could be sent to government because Wada would not accept the timelines for promulgation of sports integrity legislation and insisted that government focus on the technical amendments of the existing legislation.

“I have noted the decision by the Wada on Friday, 23 September 2023, that current South African legislation, the South African Drug-Free Sport Amendment Act, 25 of 2006, is not compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code,” Sport Minister Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

“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’ Amendment Bill, which will now be taken through the South African Constitutional process of finalising a Bill.

“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. 

Zizi Kodwa

South Africa’s Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu)

“I would like to reassure athletes, sports federations, and the sports public that the non-compliance finding will not affect drug testing in South African sport. Saids will continue to deliver services that protect clean sport in South Africa

“The South African Government process for promulgating legislation is thorough and comprehensive. Any legislation, including amendments, must meet the muster of the South African Constitution and cannot contradict or nullify any existing laws. 

“I officially communicated with Wada President Witold Bańka on South Africa’s position, and have requested to meet with him urgently.

“South Africa is committed to anti-doping in sport. Saids has done much work to meet the evolving dynamics of compliance in global sport on matters of anti-doping, anti-corruption, governance reforms, child safeguarding and data protection.

“The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture will continue to expend all efforts get the Amendment Bill adopted expeditiously.”

Consequences hitting home

It seems only now, that the threat of being unable to fly South Africa’s flag at major sporting events and other consequences, has the reality of non-compliance hit home.

In reality, nothing changes on an operational level for Saids because it’s a continuation of the good anti-doping work it already does, but the amendments are needed to satisfy the pedantic nature of legal documents.

“The overwhelming majority of the noncompliant findings by Wada of our current act are along the lines of ‘the definition must be updated to reflect the exact wording in the Wada Code’, or some definition or term in the Act is obsolete and no longer used,” Saids chief executive Khalid Galant told Daily Maverick.

“So the noncompliance pertains to the text and has no bearing on the operational ability or jurisdictional mandate of Saids.”

But it must be done, and to change the Act of Parliament requires all federations and Sascoc to approve changes.

South Africa is compelled to comply as a signatory to the International Convention Against Doping in Sport, adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in Paris on 19 October 2005. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Another epic fail by this government

    • Dennis Ryder says:

      They’ve been going hammer and tongs at the NHI and the Expropriation Bill, knowing neither will pass Constitutional muster, but forgot to put this bill on the agenda. It’s all about priorities. Outdated ideology vs running the country.

    • Dennis Ryder says:

      They’ve been going hammer and tongs at the NHI and the Expropriation Bill, knowing neither will pass Constitutional muster, but forgot to put this bill on the agenda. It’s all about priorities. Outdated ideology vs running the country.

  • Roger Sheppard says:

    “We have worked tirelessly to amend legislation as recommended by Wada.” “The South African Government process for promulgating legislation is thorough and comprehensive.” Whay is ment by “worked tirelessly”, and “…thorough and comprehensive..”? These statements, I propose, go as close as is possible of being plain LIES! ‘
    The ANC …er…does it tell ‘Lies, lies, and damne’d lies ?
    Tirelessly…honestly? Thorough? Comprehensive? …really!?
    Rest my case!

  • costa.mutzuris says:

    So are you going to fix it by 13 October or not? Enough spinning and obfuscating.

    • Dennis Ryder says:

      No chance of fixing it by then. Legislative process takes time and this isn’t even out the starting blocks.

  • Derek Anderson says:

    They are too busy changing street names for all this anti-doping stuff

  • alanrehbock says:

    Assurances do not hold water Min Kodwa. Another ANC government inaction / failure to comply. You should be embarrassed, because you had plenty of time.

  • Russ H says:

    Yawn !! Good ole ANC ! There are no words ……

  • Mike Meyer says:

    Is there ANYTHING that the cANCer can do properly ?

  • Nico` van Rooyen says:

    Well well .. worked tirelessly ?

  • Geoff Hainebach Hainebach says:

    How about docking the Minister of Sports salary until South Africa complies. He is guilty of bringing South Africa into disrepute a major misdemeanour. Of course it can’t happen, our politicians never bear the consequences of their failures.

    • Ben Harper says:

      Which anc minister hasn’t brought the country into disrepute? Seems to be a prerequisite for ministerial appointments

  • Gregory Scott says:

    Just when I thought that nothing the government does or does not do would surprise me. This article surprised me.
    The incompetence of cadre deployment shines through.
    These incompetent oafs must go.
    Voetsek ANC

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    “We have worked tirelessly to amend legislation as recommended by Wada.”

    My spidey sense says that Comrade Minister Zizi might be making that one up.

  • ANC must GO says:

    Hey! Kodwa, do your job. It’s not difficult

  • Graham Nelson says:

    Is there anything that these ANC idiots can do?
    Actually they dress nicely…
    They give out food hampers nicely…
    They give tenders to connected cadre nicely…
    They steal nicely too…
    So maybe I’m wrong. There are some things that they can do!

  • paul Volker says:

    Zizi Kodwa is useless. What did we expect.

  • Willie Uys says:

    Interesting to note that the WADA adopted the new code in 2021 and that Saids only started working on updating the SA legislation in 2022 and only presented the first draft in April 2023 with a very short response time and of course then they ran into a timing problem and now everyone is blaming someone else because the Springboks and Proteas could play under a neutral flag and without the National Anthem being sung. What a shambles and epic fail by a totally incompetent government and governing body!!

  • T Mac says:

    Lots of indignant comments, and yes, our government has failed us once again, but what about the timing of WADA? They had plenty of opportunity to address this, but waited until the World Cups to exercise their power. Bureaucrats supreme!

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      Nope, this is all on Zizi and the incomptikrats. The sanctions for non-complaince are predetermined (see Article 11 and Annex B.3.1 of the ISCCS) and have already been imposed on various countries that didn’t comply including North Korea, Indonesia and Thailand in 2021. SA signed up to all sorts of organizations and treaties that come with a fair bit of admin and compliance overhead and we can’t do either of those for toffee. Directing blame at WADO for the consequences of our serial buffoonery is unfair.

    • Ben Harper says:


  • George (Mike) Berger says:

    It’s an embarrassment that the image of South Africa is tied to the corruption, irresponsibility and incompetence of the ANC. Unfortunately we as a country have been judged by the governments we have chosen. It’s time we stopped putting our ethnic prejudices and narrow interests above that of our country. Only then can we demand and deserve the respect of our peers. It’s a disgrace that the Springboks are forced into this humiliating position in the midst of a highly competitive world cup and that the same fate will befall our other national teams. But we know the remedy

  • Heinrich Holt says:

    Perhaps Zizi could not clearly zizi the deadline through those spectacles of his. Now it is all a spectacle of note. Incomprehensembly incompetent.

  • Peter Holmes says:

    So Wada (wadda name!) want to punish our national sports teams and their spectator base for the innaction of our useless, incompetent “government”? Hmmmm…….

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      WADA is simply doing to us what we signed up to. Can’t really complain about that can you? This is much the scenario as us getting greylisted because we chose not to comply with the obligations we signed up to under FATF.

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    The two things that we can truly have pride in are our rugby and cricket teams who are both involved on the world stage. Then along comes the ANC and embarrasses the entire country over another of their epic fails. Words desert me, I, as Cyril will doubtless be, am shocked.

  • bruce.johnstone says:

    What a surprise

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Zizi’s not all bad, that’s an undeniably snappy shirt. Suspect Madiba would cringe if he knew what grade of imbecile they now get worn by though.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    South Africa was the last country in Africa to complete the digital migration for television. We’re the last to comply with WADA. We waited until we’d been put of financial grey list before actually doing anything to comply. Pathetic. Completely in line with the ANC’s general uselessness. The ANC regime doesn’t ever plan ahead, just reacts to crises once they’re already wreaking havoc and then blame everyone other than their own ineptitude and lack of ability to simply govern in a timeous, unflappable manner. Zizi Kodwa is telling an alternative truth (through his teeth) if he is serious in his claims. Pathetic.

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    No surprises here! And again I feel extremely poor journalism from DM, again not probing, asking relevant questions and giving us a relevant viewpoint, just regurgitating the rationalisation of non performance through blame. And by the way we are also told that RSA is also committed to eliminating crime 🤣

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    It’s just a process, like most of the things that a government has to do. Of course it takes time. That’s why planning is crucial. But if there’s no tender, no monetary gain, or no patronage to hand out to cadres, it’s dead in the water. These schmucks don’t care about governing.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      Yip, the first rule of lootfreely club is if it ain’t dripping gravy it ain’t making the to do list. The stuff you see them beavering away at like the Karpowerships scam or the eToll funded GFIP heist or the Russian nuclear kleptopanto all have one element in common.

  • Robert de Rooy says:

    Our government is so used to doing what they want and when they want for nearly 30 years here at home that proper and timeous compliance with international commitments catches them completely off guard.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      An occupational hazard of a dealer getting high on their own supply is what that is. The ANC has been consuming the same low quality hallucinogens they peddle to the doting electorate for so long that they don’t have a clue quite how how addled they look to normal folk nor why they won’t play along.

  • Cheryl Siewierski says:

    Oh ffs. Talk about an own-goal. How have they let this go on so long? Sport is one of the few community-building priorities that South Africa still has, and the government have just let this fall by the wayside? Unacceptable.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Zizi Kodwa is alleged to have received payments from EOH. Zizi Kodwa allegedly received payments and luxury accommodation worth R2 million from EOH’s Jehan Mackay.
    The State Capture Inquiry heard he received R1 million into his personal account.
    Kodwa denied the allegation in a letter to the ANC integrity commission.

    Yip, that one.

    • Manie Mulder says:

      A R1m deposit into a personal bank account is certainly traceable? What happened to life-style audits?

  • Paul Hjul says:

    The fact that Kodwa is claiming that this will have no impact on operations should raise eyebrows. The sports codes and international event organizations are all at liberty to enforce their own strictures on a team which is not delivering clean compliance with WADA.

    Ramaphosa can resolve the issue in 24 hours, (a) dismiss Kodwa; (b) recall the thug sent to France; (c) sign into effect a technical ascension relying on s231(3) of the Constitution. The unfortunate reality is that the government is choosing to play chicken with WADA and is hoping that the International Community will allow it to continue to run rampant.

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    Reasons could be:
    • Somebody stole all the pens.
    • Somebody didn’t check the emails.
    • Nobody understood what had to be done.
    • Somebody stole all the computers.
    • There hasn’t been a commission od enquiry.
    • It was lunchtime.

  • Too busy enriching themselves, mafias and assassinating people who know too much

  • djinniusdjinni says:

    Let’s blame apartheid.

  • Jack Russell says:

    My goodness, how deeply depressing to live in a once successful country but now run by an appalling gang that do virtually everything wrong and close to nothing right. I seem to spend more and more time speechless.

  • Richard Robinson says:

    Ineptitude rules….

  • Mario de Abreu says:

    Talking about priorities; that woman shown in your photo holding up a South Africa banner is in fact one of 2 nobodys our illustrious department of sport, in its infinite wisdom, sent off to the Worls Cup to jump around in front of the cameras and generally behave like idiots. Considering Paris is one of most expensive cities in the world and that these 2 characters will have full board and lodging, plus prime tickets to all the games, salary and airfares all paid for by us sucker taxpayers, makes this a mockery of our priorities. This little idiotic venture will cost the taxpayer millions of rand. Its easy to spend money you havent worked. for.

  • Philip Armstrong says:

    There is absolutely nothing the ANC government can do properly. It is pathetic. And, typically their reckless attitude finds them out on the international stage where responsibility and accountability is a given. Just makes a mockery of what was once a reasonably well run and functional country. Absolutely no pride.

  • Sara Gon says:

    “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.”
    Undertaking? Undertaking? Wada’s rules are to pass the legislation, not to undertake to pass the legislation.

  • Ryno le Grange says:

    What is going to happen if the Springboks sing the national anthem? Are they going to be banned from the World Cup? I think they should sing it anyway.

  • Iota Jot says:

    So, there are 190 national signatories to the Wada Code and two nations among those are non-compliant: SA and Bermuda.

    Embarrassing. Humiliating, in fact. At least the timing is perfect: with two major world cups in progress, many more South Africans will be aware of this than would normally be the case. It might help push things through a little faster. But I still foresee no anthems being sung in support of SA for the remainder of the RWC.

    They don’t seem to have banned anything being sung. How about the Boks line up and sing ‘Sinani’, Philip Myburgh’s unofficial Bokke fan song?

  • Colleen Dardagan says:

    Oh no!

  • John83 says:

    That is dreadful . Disgusting .
    The anthem and the flag and the Springboks and the Proteas.. These are all a huge source of national pride and a motivation for the teams .. something we all really need at the moment .
    How incompetant its mindblowing ! ANC you are destroying this country piece by piece !

  • Rob Glenister says:

    Is there anything the ANC-led government doesn’t mess up?

  • Graham says:

    Will the Bokke also be prevented from wearing the “green and gold”? If so we could wear the alternative kit and compete as the Checkers team.

  • Rodney Mattheys says:

    MOFFIE ??? What pray tell is a MOFFIE !!!

  • Jamie Meyer says:

    Banana Banana? Moffie? These remarks show your true colours shining through, and it’s not a good look. I’ll bet you wish it was 1979 again, when everything “still worked”.

  • Wada sign of the times that a whole sports ministry can work “tirelessly” for almost 3 years and not get done that which was done by 700 other sporting bodies.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    Like so many things we do as South Africa, it seems to always work out better when there is no government interference. Despite it’s roots in a hardline racially biased system, rugby has advanced organically and we have a truely non racial, but more importantly merit selected team that is united to bring the cup back home. I don’t think they are going to miss any political fatcats waddling about on the field before kick-off with a flag. Just a pity for the kids who get such a rush out of it.

  • Alastair Moffat says:

    The ANC has no idea of the reaction this is going to provoke from a sport loving country if we are humiliated in not being allowed to have our country properly and proudly represented because of the Sh-t Show they are. May this hurt them massively at the polling stations next year.

  • mark1hodgetts says:

    Wada mess that our Nado has achieved nada after tirelessly working!

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