Athletics SA to reach out to 'troubled but talented' Luvo Manyonga after four-year ban

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Luvo Manyonga (Gallo)
Luvo Manyonga (Gallo)

Athletics South Africa (ASA) says it will reach out to long-jumper Luvo Manyonga, who on Friday was banned from competing for four years after failing to make himself available for drug testing. 

Manyonga's history of substance abuse is well-documented, and in 2012, he was banned for 18 months having tested positive for methamphetamine. 

This ban, however, comes as a result of failing to avail himself for testing by not revealing his whereabouts to authorities. He had been temporarily banned in January for the same offence. 

In a statement released on Saturday, ASA said it had "taken note" of what deemed an "unfortunate" turn of events. 

"This decision comes at a time when the national federation was already in the process of sending out a seek-and-find intervention team to see what can be done to save our troubled but talented athlete," the statement read.

"As a disciplined member of World Athletics, we support and remain in solidarity with the outstanding work of the Athletics Integrity Unit which is meant to ensure that all athletes conform to Anti-Doping rules to guarantee fair-play."

James Moloi, the President of ASA, said he was "totally gutted" that Manyonga had been suspended. 

"However, the Board of ASA has decided to follow through on the earlier commitment to send a small team to find out where he is and what can still be done to assist the athlete with whatever he requires to refocus on his career," he said. 

"We also want to re-confirm that ASA does not interfere in the work of the Athletics Integrity Unity and strongly condemn athletes who undermine its work, because it is the responsibility of each athlete to conform to Anti-Doping regulations."

Manyonga won silver for South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympics but now seems unlikely to participate at next month's Games in Tokyo. 

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