Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula, who is participating in the Institute for Drug-Free Sport’s I Play Fair team cycling in the 2012 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour in March, led a training cycle ride today in preparation for the event to spread the message of ethics, fair-play and anti-doping in sport.
The Minister and about 100 cyclists from various cycle clubs in Gauteng completed a training ride on a cycle route that started at Cycle Lab in Lynwood and traveled through to the CSIR main site, Meiring Naude Road, Pretoria.
Commenting on his participation in riding his first Cape Argus Cycle Tour this year, as a member of ‘Team I Play Fair’, Minister Mbalula, who, other than spinning, has not cycled for years, says he is a bit anxious about completing the Argus Cycle Tour. “However, I am young and healthy and will take up the challenge one pedal stroke at a time.”
He points out that participating in the event is one of the best ways that he, as Minister of Sport, can demonstrate his commitment to the principles of fair play, ethics and anti-doping. “With Government investing considerable amounts of money in sport I want to ensure that the returns on our investment are celebrated through clean victories and healthy living,” he adds.
Having voiced his support for the I Play Fair SAY NO! to Doping initiative, he reiterates the campaign’s importance: “While we want our athletes across all sports to excel and perform well, we do not want our athletes to succumb to the pressure of doping merely to win. Victories that are won through cheating are hollow victories and will be temporary.”
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula leads cycling training ride at Cycle Lab Lynwood
“Our sport and achievements would be meaningless if the commitment from the top echelon of sport wavers on the issue of doping and cheating,” he adds. “In the greater scheme of things, my commitment to drug-free sport and ethics in sport is consistent not only with fair play on the field, but also with the clean and ethical administration of our sports governing bodies.”
SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport’s CEO, Khalid Galant, says that the public attention around the participation of the Minister of Sport and the Premier of the Western Cape has already contributed to greater awareness around drug-free sport.
“The Minister is setting a very high precedent among sports executives by putting words into action,” he says. “It is not only the message of ethics and fair play that the Minister is imparting but also that of healthy living.”
With the rising incidences of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and adult onset diabetes among our population, Galant says that the Minister’s participation in the largest cycling event in the country is an excellent example that one can embark on a healthy lifestyle irrespective of how busy your work schedule is.
The I Play Fair team of 25 riders is made up of various public figures and celebrities from sport and other professionals including former Miss 2010 SA Bokang Montjane, political activist Zackie Achmat, Bike Pure SA’s ambassador Yolande Pretorius, TV personality Vanessa Haywood, 8-time Iron Man champion Paula Newby-Fraser, and President of Triathlon SA Dr. Debby Alexander.
For their part, Cycling SA will be taking a proactive stance this year on developing more campaigns to highlight the importance of cycling road safety.
The Institute is encouraging all South African sportsmen and women, coaches and fans to take the ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ pledge by visiting www.drugfreesport.org.za the mobi-site: m.drugfreesport.org.za, on the Facebook Page (iplayfairZA) or via Twitter (@iplayfairZA)
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Kevin Garwood and Nicholas Garwood
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula interviewed by SABC TV crew