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Zambia FA critical of stringent Banda hormone tests

The Zambian Football Association [FAZ] said they are working towards a long-term solution to what they feel is ‘stringent’ testosterone testing that ruled out star striker Barbra Banda from Africa Women Cup of Nations.

Banda, 22, was one of four players omitted from Zambia’s final AWCON squad after refusing to undergo hormone suppression treatment, after her testosterone levels were said to be above the Confederation of African Football’s limit for the tournament.

Banda struck back-to-back hat-tricks during Zambia’s debut Olympic campaign in Japan last year, becoming the first woman to achieve the feat, and to net six goals across two matches in the history of the women’s competition.

“Our FA President [Andrew Kamanga] is in Morocco and has been pursuing this matter with his colleagues in CAF,” FAZ communications director Sydney Mungala told ESPN.

“The Barbra case is just one example, but the broader picture is to strive to see how these regulations can be more responsible for the general situation not just Zambia.

“Many players can be affected by these regulations, and football is their livelihood. I think the CAF regulations are a lot more stringent [than Olympic regulations], and they put too much stress on testosterone levels.”

Mungala acknowledged that the Zambian federation were made aware that Banda’s testosterone levels were outside CAF’s guidelines in the aftermath of her star turn at the Olympics, and that a course of hormone suppression was offered to the attacker and the other Zambian players about whom concerns were raised.

“Our medics engaged the players and they weren’t willing to go through with it I think there are possible side effects,” Mungala continued.

“With the players not going down that route and taking up that option, the final decision was that they could not be included in the final list for the competition.”

South African Olympic champion runner Caster Semenya is the most famous case of testosterone rules affecting a sporting career, and she recently told HBO Real Sports about the effects of the testosterone suppression drugs on her body.

Semenya said: “It made me sick, made me gain weight, panic attacks, I don’t know if I was ever going to have a heart attack.

“It’s like stabbing yourself with a knife every day. But I had no choice. I’m 18, I want to run, I want to make it to Olympics, that’s the only option for me.”

Semenya has since refused to take the medication, rather opting to change her distances, and has been in prolonged court battles to have the IAAF rules changed.

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