Cape Town, December 7, 2011- The Institute for Drug-Free Sport has announced that Minister Fikile Mbalula will lead the Institute’s newly formed I Play Fair cycling team of celebrities who will ride in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour on 10 March 2012 in Cape Town to spread the message of ethics, fair-play and anti-doping in sport.
SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport, in collaboration with Sport & Recreation SA, the Western Cape Premier and Cycling South Africa, will use the 2012 Cape Argus Cycle tour as the platform to launch the ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ campaign to the cycling fraternity in SA.
The team of 25 riders is made up of various public figures and celebrities from sport and other professions including Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, former Springbok rugby player Chester Williams, former Proteas cricketer Mkahaya Ntini, eight-time Ironman Triathlon champion Paula Newby-Fraser, Chief Director Department of Sport & Recreation Professor Paul Singh, and TV Sport personality Owen Hannie.
“The celebrity cycling team who are all role models, will help in spreading the message of fair play and ethics in sport as people look up to celebrities for their achievements,” says SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport CEO Khalid Galant. “The celebrity cycling team will not only draw greater publicity and attention to fair play and ethics in sports but by participating in an event like the Argus Cycle Tour, which is not an easy physical challenge, these prominent people are enforcing the values of hard work to attain a sporting achievement or any other challenge. They are also making it clear that short cuts such as cheating and drugs are not only harmful but will lead to hollow victories.”
By participating as a team, Galant says he is hoping to publicise the commitment of these high profile figures to the values of a drug-free sport environment. “Through training and effort, sport can be enjoyed by everyone from the beginner to the professional,” he adds. “Sport is an ideal outlet and alternative to drugs and sedentary living. We do not want sport to be sullied with drugs and an unfair competitive environment where a “win-at-all costs” attitude is prevalent.”
Galant says that cycling will be a big focus for the Institute next year as doping in cycling and SA sport is still on the increase. “We have to be aggressive with our public awareness of drug-free sport to keep our sports clean so that it continues to be a viable option for those seeking sporting excellence and healthy, active lifestyles.”
Galant says that cycling is one of the biggest mass based sports activities where people of all ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and fitness abilities participate. The Cape Argus Cycle Tour is the largest timed cycle event in the world with over 30,000 people participating.
The I Play Fair cycling team will participate in other mass based sports events during 2012 such as the Soweto Marathon and the BSG Energade triathlon series, to bring prominence to the I Play Fair drug-free sport messages.
Cycle SA is also involved in the initiative and have voiced their commitment to the Drug-Free Sport principles and have endorsed the I Play Fair campaign through participating in the Team. “Cycling SA, governs and administers the sport of cycling in the country have certainly backed up their words with actions through participating in the I Play Fair team,” says Galant.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula endorsed the I Play Fair initiative when it was launched earlier this year and officially declared the 18th of June as ‘I Play Fair’ day stating that the Department supported the Institute for Drug-Free Sport’s aim to aggressively tackle doping in sport and spread the message of ethics, fair-play and anti-doping in sport and with the initiative create a culture of anti-doping in sport.
Commenting on his participation in the team, Mbalula says that he is committed to the I Play fair initiative and that through this campaign, the expectation is that natural sport ability is the one that reigns supreme.
“Thus I encourage everyone to not use performance enhancing substances and through competitions like Cape Argus we believe that messages of good sports ethics and campaigns by SAIDS can penetrate throughout the sporting fraternity to ensure a culture of anti-doping in South Africa,” he says.
With regard to the Department’s stand on ethics, fair play and anti-doping in sport in South Africa, Mbalula says that SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport is a project of the department itself thus ensuring the commitment of the department to assist in the aggressive fight against doping in Sport.
“We believe in a no tolerance attitude and we want athletes to use their God given natural abilities through hard work and commitment and not to be unethical and use performance enhancing substances,” he adds.
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