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Date: 24 November 2017

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Chafa's March 2014 return-lessons for sportsmen

[Posted 16 Oct 2013]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Devon Chafa
The news that most Zimbabwean soccer loving people have been waiting for is finally out. Talented and promising Dynamos central midfielder Devon Chafa’s case has been finalsed by FIFA and the player has been adjudged to have been guilty of doping and will be suspended for six months, and is set to return in March 2014.

A statement published by FIFA on its website has confirmed the sad news for the warriors midfielder:
"The FIFA Discplinary Committee decided on 10 October to sanction the Zimbabwe international player Chafa Devon Taitamba, who had been provisionally suspended in August for an anti-doping rule violation following a doping control conducted after the match of the preliminary competition of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil played in Harare, Zimbabwe on 9 June 2013".

"The player has been declared ineligible for a period of six months after testing positive for a substance included on WADA's 2013 Prohibited List under the class 'S9. Glucocorticosteroids'"

The FIFA statement goes on to state that by testing positive for a prohibited substance, the player has violated article 6 of the FIFA Anti-Doping Regulations. As such, Chafa is adjudged to have contravened article 63 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

Chafa's suspension has a retroactive effect in that it runs from 30 August 2013, the date from which the player was provisionally suspended by the chairman of the Disciplinary Committee nd will expire at the end of February 2014. The suspension covers all types of matches, including domestic, international, friendly and official fixtures. Chafa was duly notified of the outcome by Fifa on Monday 14th October 2013.

Chafa's side of the story was that the prohibited substance which he used was mistakenly taken as a prescription by his doctor for an injury which he had previously suffered.

The development comes at a time when Chafa was clearly the best player in the Zimbabwean Castle Lager and was playing the best football he has ever played. Chafa was outstanding for Zimbabwe in the COSAFA Cup finals played in Zambia during mid year, and received man-of-the match award in one of the matches. Chafa was simply the most influential player for Zimbabwe through out the tournament, and played consistently well and received rave reviews from the media for his central midfield displays and was the hub for Zimbabwe's defensive and attacking play.

The development should be a lesson for other players to be careful when receiving treatment from their family doctors. Ignorance of the law is unfortunately not a defence and FIFA will always argue that a player should have known the rules better and cannot argue that he was a victim of trusting his physician. Our sympathies go out to the affable and hard-working Chafa who undoubtedly is one player that Zimbabwe's senior national team needs in its rebuilding exercise under new coach Ian Gorowa.

Whatever people's opinions are regarding the Chafa case, the way forward for Zimbabwean and indeed African football is that awareness programs should be initiated to raise awareness against the dangers of taking prohibited substances knowingly or the risks of unknowingly taking such substances through prescribed medication.

Players have to be taught to protect themselves and visit doctors who are aware of the requirements of their professions as far as medical drugs are concerned. Players cannot make the all familiar cry of a victim because a disciplinary body will always require players to have known better before placing their careers at risk.

The Chafa case raises a lot of questions about the role of club team doctors. What role do they play when soccer players are injured and have to seek medical advise? Does the PSL leadership in Zimbabwe make it mandatory that clubs should have team doctors, and what is the scope of the role of these team doctors?
Football stakeholders have debated enough about the dangers players are exposed to in this regard, and time to talk aimlessly has come and gone. Now is the time to spring to action and come up with lasting solutions before we hear of another similar case in Zimbabwean football.

Football Association of Zimbabwe (here after FUZ) has done an amazing job in representing the interests of players, I am sure. The likes of Paul Gundani and Desmond Maringwa should organise an educational campaign for active soccer players, and help to raise awareness of what could happen through ignorance and/or negligence.

While this appears like a FUZ responsibility, there are many other stakeholders in football who have interest in the welfare and well-being of players. Each stakeholder should make a contribution from their little corner. However, for this to happen, there is should a central coordinating stakeholder. This is where ZIFA or FUZ working jointly with ZIFA can come in.

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