DAPHNE, Ala. – United States Sports Academy alumnus Khalid Galant, chief executive officer of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS), said the Academy’s unique global focus was a major factor in why he chose to earn his master’s degree from the institution.
He is now using the knowledge gained at the Academy to perform a job in his country that has become crucial in global sports: combatting doping.
Galant, who lives near Cape Town, South Africa, earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports medicine from the Academy in 1994. He has served as the CEO of SAIDS since 2008.
“I was attracted to the Academy because it was the only specialized graduate degree in sport that had a truly global focus,” Galant said. “The faculty had experience teaching in other countries in the sports environment and the student body was also very diverse.
“In fact, my current international colleague in anti-doping, Dr. Patrick Goh, the CEO of the Singapore Anti-Doping Agency, graduated from the Academy the year before me.”
SAIDS is an independent, national anti-doping agency for the country and its primary mandate is to implement the World Anti-Doping Code in the country and to ensure its compliance by athletes and sports federations.
Previously, Galant worked as a project manager for a global business development firm and in the public affairs and marketing industries. He also worked as the managing director of SAIDS between 1997 and 2000 and as the deputy director of the South Africa National Department of Sport and Recreation between 1995 and 1997.
“After graduating from the Academy I returned to South Africa in 1995, following the end of the Apartheid government in 1994,” Galant said. “I was part of the first generation of black civil servants employed during the Nelson Mandela presidency. I worked for the then Minister of Sport developing policies on science and information matters on sport.
“Part of my task was to develop anti-doping legislation that would give jurisdiction to establish an independent agency. After the legislation was promulgated I was appointed as its first director.”
Since the inception of SAIDS in 1998 it has provided leadership in the development of a national anti-doping strategy in South Africa. It has also developed and implemented a comprehensive drug testing program, provided drug education, consulted other African nations about their anti-doping infrastructure, and collaborated with other worldwide anti-doping agencies to achieve global standards for anti-doping practices.
Galant said anti-doping standards are more important now than ever after high profile athletes like Lance Armstrong have been caught using performance enhancing drugs. He also cited the recent Russian Olympic doping scandal, which involved hundreds of athletes across multiple athletic disciplines, as a reason why anti-doping education and reforms are necessary.
“Doping has become an even more serious threat to the integrity of sport over the past decade,” he said.
“It always existed in sport but in the wake of the Lance Armstrong and Russian athletics doping scandals, the sports public and clean athletes have become more cynical about sports performances.
“To protect clean athletes and the spirit and values of sport competition, a global anti-doping code had to be implemented across all sports codes. Drug testing is a deterrent against cheating but the more effective method is when we collaborate with law enforcement agencies to curtail steroid and other performance enhancing drugs being trafficked in sport.”
Galant studied international business management at Western Washington University and earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Occidental College. Galant played multiple sports as a child in South Africa, where rugby, soccer, and cricket are widely popular.
“I come from a family where we participated in various sports year-round and my father was a well-known sports administrator in cricket,” he said.
“Growing up in South Africa where rugby, football and cricket are played in the different seasons I was always active and the spirit of competition and camaraderie were instilled in me. So pursuing an occupation in sport did not really feel like ‘work.’”