Drugs rife in South African sport

“Using drugs to improve performance in sport may lead to an athlete being banned.”

By Maxwell Levine

Anti-doping education plays a pivotal role in promoting the values of ethics and fair play in sport, thereby protecting the “spirit of sport” and true sportsmanship.

Using drugs to improve performance in sport may lead to an athlete being banned. But it may also harm their general health. 

Sporting authorities have banned many drugs and other substances, not just because they might give an athlete an unfair advantage but also because of the wider health risks. Hence there are bodies like the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and on our shores, the South Africa Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) who regulate doping offences and do random doping tests on athletes.

Of late, the Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi case has headed the headlines. Dyantyi failed a drug test after a sample was tested at a national camp in early July 2019, with three banned substances found in his system. He faces a four-year ban. The Independent Tribunal Panel adjourned his latest hearing after three days.

“The initial hearing date was postponed due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. In order to continue to protect the rights of the athlete to a fair trial, SAIDS will not be commenting further on proceedings.”

A new date still must be agreed by both parties.

The 26-year-old has played 13 Tests for the Springboks and was the 2018 World Rugby breakthrough player.

Earlier this year, former Springbok and Sharks hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle was handed an eight-year ban after testing positive for banned anabolic substance Zenanol during an out-of-competition random test at Kings Park in January 2019. It is Chiliboy’s third positive test.

There have been several other high-profile rugby players who have tested positive for banned substances. Johan Ackerman, the former Bulls, Sharks and Spring lock and former Lions and Gloucester coach, served a two-year ban, starting in 1997 for using the steroid, Nandrolone.

Bennie Nortje, the former Lions scrumhalf was handed a two-year ban for using testosterone in 1997. Former Western Province and Springbok prop Cobus Visagie tested positive for Nandrolone in 2000.

Johan Goosen, the one-time Cheetahs and Springbok flyhalf, used Methylhexanamine in 2010 when he was still U-19 player in Bloemfontein. He served three months because of the indiscretion. Herkie Kruger of the Sharks was banned for two years for testing positive for Nandrolone in 2003.

Monde Hadebe, also from the Sharks, was found guilty of using two separate steroids, Oxandrolone and Stanozolol, in 2016, and was handed a four-year ban. Steam Pienaar served a two-year ban in 2016. Then there is Gerbrandt Grobler who served two years and Ashley Johnson who served a six-month ban.

In other sporting codes sports people in doping cases includes Jamie Bloem, Franscois Botha, Okkert Brits, Surita Febbraio, Ali Funeka, David George, Burger Lambrechts, Mbulelo Mabizela, Simon Magakwe, Luvo Manyonga, Offentse Mogawana, Hezekiel Sepeng, Amanda Sister, Arthur Zwane, Roland Schoeman, Carin Horn, Victor Hogan and Thandani Ntshumayelo.

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