Lehata says sorry

Lehata says sorry

MASERU – Lesotho Olympic sprinter Mosito Lehata has apologised to the nation after receiving a five-year ban for using a banned substance in March.
Lehata’s sanction was handed down last week and the sprinter urged fellow athletes and the younger generation to learn from his mistakes and be careful of what they consume.

Lehata was prosecuted by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) for violating two anti-doping rules.
The first offence is for testing positive for Salbutamol, a banned asthma drug, while Lehata is also charged with attempting to tamper with his test results.
Attempts to get Lehata’s comment proved futile as he is yet to respond to messages and an email left for him. However, he released a statement on his Facebook page on Tuesday confirming he has been kicked out of athletics.

In a remorseful letter, Lehata, who is Lesotho’s national record holder in the 100 and 200 metres, said he made one mistake in his 14-year career and has to pay for it.
“Every action has a consequence, (whether) it was unintentionally or intentionally,” he said.
“I have been in athletics for 14 years and I am proud of everything I have accomplished. I made one mistake in 14 years and I have to pay for it. Took asthma medication and it got me in trouble. For those that I have disappointed, I apologise to you,” Lehata’s message read.

At 32, a five-year ban effectively ends his athletic career because by the time the punishment ends in June 2026 he will be 37. Lehata appeared to admit as much as he thanked the nation for its support in his message.
“For all the young athletes coming up, you don’t have to make the same mistakes I have made, learn from my mistakes. Always be careful of what you take. Basotho, you have been so supportive for more than a decade. Thank you a million times,” Lehata said.
SAIDS said Lehata admitted to the charges against him and waived his right to a hearing.

Lehata also entered into a ‘Results Management Agreement’ that resulted in a reduction in his sanction meaning his period of ineligibility began on June 9, 2021.
Salbutamol is part of a group of asthma drugs classified as beta-2-agonists by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
According to WADA, the drugs can boost sprint and strength performance in athletes who don’t have the asthma respiratory condition.
Beta-2-agonists are said to relax the airways carrying oxygen to the lungs and WADA’s research suggests elite athletes using anti-asthma substances have consistently outperformed their peers who don’t.

However, the status of Salbutamol as a performance enhancing drug remains controversial even though beta-2-agonists were published on WADA’s list of banned substances in January 2020.
In 2017, for example, British Olympic cyclist Chris Froome was banned by WADA for exceeding the allowed Salbutamol limit by 20 percent but was cleared of any wrongdoing after a seven-month investigation.

Details of Lehata’s case have not yet been revealed but his ban is a kick in the teeth for the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) because he was the country’s poster boy for clean sport.
Lehata has represented Lesotho at several major global sporting events, including the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, and his list of achievements is impressive.

In 2014, he finished fourth in the 100 metres at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in Scotland and won silver in the same event at 2016 African Championships in Durban, South Africa.
Memorably, Lehata was the flagbearer for Lesotho during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games but his run as the face of the country’s athletics appears to be over.

Tlalane Phahla

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