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Drug-Free Sport Kicks Off ‘I Play Fair’ Initiative to Promote Anti-Doping & Help Counteract 100% Increase in Drug Abuse

Johannesburg – 14th June, 2011 – The SA Institute for Drug Free Sport launched its ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ initiative today, aimed at tackling doping in sport; and spreading the message of ethics, fair-play and anti-doping in sport. This coincides with the release of shocking statistics that reflect a 100% increase in doping offences in sport.

“Our SA doping control stats clearly show the use of performance enhancing drugs is on the increase among adolescent athletes and among the adult population,” says Institute for Drug-Free Sport Chairman, Shuaib Manjra. “Our latest positie doping stats for the period 1st April 2010 to 30th March 2011, show a doubling to 50 positive tests from 19 for the year before.”

He says that this rise can be attributed to the widespread availability of sports supplements that contain banned substances like anabolic steroids, pro hormones and stimulants. “The advertising and marketing of these types of these products is widespread and prays on the sports performance anxiety of athletes, with the products being promoted as an instant solution to improved performance,” he says.

“With the increase in doping, we realised we needed to tackle the problem head on in a more aggressive way that would help create a culture of anti-doping in sport,” says Manjra.

The ‘I Play Fair – Say No! To Doping’ awareness campaign promotes drug-free sport and has an easily recognisable message and symbolises clean sport, which, he says, is a good way to unite athletes in the fight against doping in sport and in creating a culture of anti-doping and to gain public support through education and participation.

“We hope the initiative will enable us to get more key anti-doping messages across to athletes and the general sports public of the serious nature of drug abuse as it relates to sport and the consequences thereof. We need to remind athletes that reasons for competing is about the camaraderie, spirit of sport and not a ‘win at all costs’ attitude.”

From this year, the 18th June will be officially recognised by Government as ‘I Play Fair – Say NO! To Doping’ special awareness day and the campaign will be officially launched on 18th June with prominent visibility at both of the Super 15 rugby games. In Pretoria Sports and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula and in Bloemfontein Deputy Minister, Gert Oosthuizen will lead a ceremonial procession onto the field before kick off at both matches.

The initiative is being backed by an aggressive marketing campaign. “We wanted to look at a new strategy for implementing our anti doping educational programme with information that utilises different media that also targeted adolescents, using new channels of communication,” says Manjra. “Therefore social media is being included in the mix as a tool to generate public participation for the initiative with a dedicated I Play Fair Facebook fan page (iplayfairZA) and Twitter page (@iplayfairZA). Today we launch a digital ad campaign, and our new website and mobi-site.”