Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



South Africa files appeal to avoid Rugby World Cup flag ban

A young South Africa fan holds a flag before the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Tonga, at Marseille's Stade Velodrome, France Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.   -  
Copyright © africanews
Pavel Golovkin/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

South Africa

South Africa has appealed against a decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) threatening sanctions for non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code, including a ban on raising its flag at the Rugby World Cup this weekend, its Sports Minister shared on Tuesday.

The rainbow nation had until Friday to bring its anti-doping legislation into line with the WADA's new World Anti-Doping Code, or face sanctions. These would affect all South African athletes, starting with the reigning rugby world champions, who could be stripped of their jerseys, flag and national anthem for Sunday's quarter-final against France.

Given the deadline, some, say it's almost certain that Pretoria won't be up to standard on time.

The appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, aims to "delay" the effects of WADA's decision and thus spare the country a major embarrassment, said Sports Minister Zizi Kodwa at a press conference on the sensitive issue.

"This means that the flying of the South African flag at events such as the Cricket and Rugby World Cups will not be affected until CAS has ruled on this case," Mr. Kodwa explained.

"I believe that the grounds for the appeal are sound and that the sanctions are not appropriate," he continued.

"The sanction relating to the ban on hoisting the national flag has created unnecessary hysteria and unfairly punished athletes and players," he railed.

The appeal was lodged by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids), the independent body that oversees the fight against doping in South Africa, he added.

WADA's new code came into force in 2021, and only South Africa and Bermuda have yet to bring their national legislation into line, according to the Montreal-based anti-doping organization.

This delay has provoked the ire of Mark Alexander, head of the South African rugby federation: "We have this problem because our government has failed to get new legislation enacted," he told local media. "It's a disgrace. It's very worrying for our country. They (government officials) were warned well in advance."

For his part, Minister Kodwa said he had proposed the necessary regulatory changes to the cabinet last week and had requested that the bill be fast-tracked through the parliamentary system.

"I am confident that WADA will recognize these efforts as a commitment to adopt the amended legislation and suspend the declaration of non-compliance," he said.

View more