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South Africa’s visible lead on anti-doping policies has resulted in South Africa leading UNESCO in the fight against global anti-doping efforts. This is evident with the appointment of Deputy Minister of Sport, Gert Oosthuizen as Chair of UNESCO's Conference of Parties to the International Convention Against Doping in Sport. The two year appointment was announced in Paris yesterday at the 3rd Session Party Conference held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris from 14 to 16 November. This is reported by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport’s CEO, Khalid Galant, who is in Paris for the convention, and who says that the Institute congratulates the Deputy Minister of Sport on his appointment. “Two countries were nominated for the chairmanship, South Africa and Argentina,” he says. “After the nomination process, Argentina opted not to contest the nomination and stepped down in favour of South Africa.” Representatives from governments as well as anti-doping agencies are formally invited by UNESCO to attend. 172 Countries are signatories to the Convention and approximately 70 countries are present at the meeting in Paris. The meeting is attended by various Ministers of Sport and political heads with responsibility of sport in their respective countries. These delegates are generally accompanied by the administrators of the anti-doping programs in their countries – in SA’s case the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport. He explains that UNESCO’s Conference of Parties has overall responsibility for the implementation of the Convention and ensuring compliance by signatories. The International Convention Against Doping in Sport helps governments commit to global anti-doping rules, policies and guidelines in order to provide an honest and equitable playing environment for all athletes. "South Africa is being recognised as exhibiting innovative and committed leadership in delivering on the UNESCO convention against doping in sport in the country and the continent of Africa,” says Galant. “The leadership role will strengthen our international partnerships especially with other African countries who look to SAIDS to mentor them through implementing best practices in anti-doping that have applicability and relevance to Africa." “The vote of confidence in the political leadership of sport in South Africa by the international sport political peers is in recognition of the tangible commitment of the Minister and Deputy Minister of Sport to the values of drug-free sport,” he adds. “This commitment is expressed through their continued financial support to the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport and to encouraging the Institute in forging relationships with our African neighbours to build anti-doping capacity on the African continent so that sport across the African continent can be assured of a drug-free sport environment.” Galant says that the Institute’s anti-doping awareness efforts have been ramped up over the past year with its I Play Fair SAY NO! to Doping awareness campaign. The campaign has the full endorsementof the Government’s Department of Sport & Recreation. “The I Play Fair campaign is aimed at promoting drug-free sport through easily recognisable messages that symbolise clean sport, unites athletes in the fight against doping in sport, creates a culture of anti-doping and gains public support through education and participation,” says Galant. The key items of discussion to come under the spotlight at this year’s conference in Paris are the administration of the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport; and compliance with the International Convention against Doping in Sport (including the submission of national reports by all States Parties).