Welcome to Elezine's August edition.
The African sports world has been thrown into a wild tail spin by news that Botswana's swimming elephant, Daisy, has returned an irregular drug test.
We at Elezine were astonished and have been lucky that we have Daisy's coach, Dopjie Van heerden, to explain what on Earth has been going on.
Elezine: Dopjie, is this true? Daisy is a drug cheat?
DVH: No, no, no, a thousand times NO!
Elezine: Can you explain?
DVH: Certainly. What happened was this. Everyone, and indeed every thing, who wishes to compete at the Olympics has to be drug tested before they can even swim in a trial. I learned this from the reams of paperwork they sent me.
So I got an email from WADA (World Anti-Doping Authority) saying that they were sending out a tester to take a sample from Daisy.
So I rang Simba and asked if this was even possible and he said, it was possible as she has been to the vet before for various things, however, she didn't like anything about the vet, particularly having an injection, and if you think giving your pet cat a worming pill is difficult, try jabbing a 100cc dose into an annoyed Elephant.
So we talked it over and neither of us wanted to put Daisy through distress, so we left it at this, she would provide a urine sample but not a blood sample.
If that was a deal breaker for WADA then that would be the end of this little lark about sending Daisy to Rio.
Elezine: And so how did it turn out? If that front page of Le Quipe is anything to go by there must have been something up?
DVH: Oh yeah, I would just like to point out that Daisy did not test positive for performance enhancing drugs, but was guily of providing an irregular sample.
And anyone who has asked an elephant to urinate will know that 20 odd litres of urine is 'irregular' to say the least.
So the guy from WADA showed up and he was obviously not up to speed, because at first he thought Simba was the athlete.
When Simba explained to him that the towering grey animal standing behind him was indeeed the athlete in question he, naturally enough, refused to believe it.
SImba didn't didn't really have time to waste, Daisy is a working animal after all, so there then followed something of an argument, and boy I wish I'd been present for that one, then Simba told him to call me and I would be able to explain things better.
SImba speaks english, but with a pronounced accent and the tester was Belgian, with his own accent and so things were not moving forward.
So the tester, Pierce was his name, called me and I explained the situation as best I could.
And any of you who fancy yourselves as diplomats, have a practise explaining to an Belgian official whose native language is Walloon that he has to co-operate with an african elephant handler whose native dialect is Manyika to get an Elelphant to provide a urine sample, but won't be providing a blood sample.
It really was Alice in Wonderland stuff.
However, I eventually got him to agree to do it and and rang off.
I thought things must have been Ok, because they didn't ring back, but the next thing I knew was the front page of Le Quipe.
|If you ask an elephant to urinate, you get full co-operation.|
I called Simba back, to get the full story and it was pretty funny in the end.
He said that he indicated to Daisy that the funny little man wanted her to urinate.
Daisy, I might add, co-operated fully, and let 'er rip.
Unfortunately the tester's sample cup held 500ml max, and so very quickly the tester's cup was overflowing, the tester was drenched and the ait was full of shouted expletives.
PIerce yelling, to Simba, "Get her to stop", Simba yelling back in Manyika, "if you know how to get an Elephant to stop urinating, then be my guest."
Elezine: Holy cow, so the air was rife with remonstrations?
DVH: Oh yeah, Pierce was saying she pissed on him on purpose, Simba was saying if she had done it prupose he'd be swimming now and on on.
Eventually things calmed down and he went back to WADA headquarters in Paris and spoke to Le Quipe, whilst still in a huff and the result was the story was have all read.
Elezine: So where does Daisy's Olympic dream lie now?
DVH: Well I had to field phone calls from Daisy's supporters, and thanks in large part to your magazine, she has lots.
Because of the confusion, 'was she a drug cheat', 'had she been caught?', 'will she still be going to Rio?' etc I decided to hold a press conference and clear the air.
Elezine: Was this successful?
DVH: Ultimately it was. With the publicity from the drug test it was time to come clean and make sure the world knew that Daisy was an Elephant.
I spoke with Sports Botswana to say things were getting complicated (to say the least) and what did they think?
They responded with a neat compromise, which was, although Daisy couldn't swim at RIo, she had become so popular, he is the only Botswanan athlete that anyone outside Africa can name, for instance, they would be happy to adopt her as official mascot of the Botswana Olympic Team and she could go to Rio as this capacity.
Elezine: You were happy with this?
DVH: In genral yes.
We always knew she would be found out sooner or later, and this was Ok with us, but of course there was a complication.
Elezine: Which was?
DVH: Botswana is not the richest of nations, and the government can't afford her airfare. So we have to raise it ourselves for her to go.
Elezine: What will that cost?
DVH: Well obviously she needs her own aircraft, and the closest one that would do the job is a South African Military transport vehicle.
|Daisy's 'Clear the Air' press conference.|
We hope your readers will give generously to get her there.
Elezine: Well we'll certainly do our best, Anytime we have Daisy on the cover, our sales skyrocket,.
Elezine: So come on readers, send Daisy to Rio! All contributions to Elezine at our usual address.