Fifa worry about use of muthi

FIFA is concerned that players at the World Cup could use undetectable stimulants derived from traditional African medicines that aren't currently banned substances.

FIFA is concerned that players at the World Cup could use undetectable stimulants derived from traditional African medicines that aren't currently banned substances.

Fifa medical committee chairperson Michel D'Hooghe yesterday said he wanted the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to analyse some African plants that could give athletes an unfair advantage.

"I have a big concern - and I can confess that. We were learning a lot about the traditional African medicines and we are not sure what all of these products contain.

"I think some products are not detectable. This makes it difficult. They can deliver stimulation and diuretic activity."

D'Hooghe said he became aware of the extent of the issue at Fifa's medical conference at the weekend at Sun City ahead of the World Cup in South Africa, which starts on June 11.

In many African countries, plants provide the main source of medicine.

Umhlabelo, made of dried leaves from the Nidorella plant, can help heal bones and muscles. The Hoodia plant is used as an appetite suppressant, but also provides an energy boost.

South African team doctor Ntlopi Mogoru says some plants, usually found in tropical African countries such as Ghana, can produce steroid byproducts that are not on Wada's list and aren't picked up in doping tests.

"There is no way of knowing. That's where the problem is. It's from the players' cultural backgrounds," he said. - Sapa-AP

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