smooth sailing

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

PSL club Platinum Stars are relieved that defender Daniel "Sailor" Tshabalala's two-year ban from soccer has been lifted.

Safa's Disciplinary Committee had found the defender guilty of using the banned substance cannabis in July, and banned him from participating in professional soccer matches for two years.

Though the ban was lifted altogether, the R55000 fine - R20000 of which is suspended for 12 months - was upheld. Brookstone said he was very happy for the player, and had every faith in his ability to get his fitness back.

"Sailor is an integral part of the club, he has been with us for many years and we make it our business to look after our people at Stars. That is why we stood by him in his hour of need and challenged the sentence, which in our view was very harsh," Brookstone said.

Tshabalala, was also recovering from a toe operation in June, went back to training for the first time in two months this morning.

"This has been very difficult, particularly for my mother. But we put it in God's hands. I could not have done it by myself. The team, the coach and my teammates have been good to me. I could not have stayed strong by myself," Tshabalala said.

"I am sure Sailor will regain his place in no time. We have certainly missed him," Brookstone said.

Tshabalala seems to have had a lucky escape, mainly because he was a first-time offender.

While reviewing the case, the committee appears to have been swayed by the fact that cannabis is not performance-enhancing, but a recreational drug which therefore had no bearing on his on-field performance.

"The committee has to treat each case on its own merits. We do believe that the sentence will be a deterrent to other players," Morio Sanyane, Safa director of communications, said.

"The player has to pay a large amount of money and he also has to go out and warn kids about the dangers of taking marijuana. Should he be caught doing the same thing again, as a repeat offender the sentence will be much stiffer."