South African Rugby And Drugs

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Post by profitius on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 12:49 pm

Alan Quinlan's article about it today.


"This sport means an awful lot to me.

I have skin in the game, and I’ve lost plenty of blood, sweat and tears to it since I first threw a ball around in Clanwilliam 39 years ago.

Rugby has also given me plenty of opportunities in life for which I will be eternally grateful. I feel duty-bound to protect it.

When someone attacks the game, I instinctively get defensive. But the health of the sport and those who play it remain the most important things.

Last November in Monte Carlo, Ireland capped a memorable 2018 at the World Rugby Awards; Joe Schmidt picking up the Coach of the Year gong, Ireland being named Team of the Year, and Johnny Sexton winning the Player of the Year award.

The same night, in front of Princess Charlene of Monaco, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi was named World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year, seeing off the stiff shortlist competition of Jordan Larmour and New Zealand prop Karl Tu’inukuafe.

Two weeks ago, Dyantyi was formally charged with a doping offence after his ‘B’ sample from a test on July 2 had backed up the initial positive reading for multiple anabolic steroids and metabolites.

The 25-year-old is pleading his innocence and vowing to clear his name. We’ve heard this story before. A four-year ban looks inevitable.

Bryan Habana says he is shocked, and that might be because he knows Dyantyi personally. But the reality is, a South African failing a drugs test no longer causes that much of a stir.

The only real surprise is that the player in question is in the international picture. Beyond that, it’s just another name on a worryingly long list.

South African rugby has had a problem with doping for years, going right back to my playing days.

There are plenty of good people in the game there; a number of agencies are trying to clean the sport up. But on current evidence, they are fighting a losing battle.

Hendre Stassen, a 21-year-old South African second-row at Stade Francais, is also facing four years on the sidelines after a sample he gave following a Top 14 defeat to Montpellier in May was found to have an elevated level of testosterone.

Last month, a coach in a renowned Cape Town rugby school was suspended after a former student claimed the man helped him to inject an illegal substance.

The revelations in recent years from Craven Week, an annual tournament for schoolboys across South Africa, have been particularly grim.

There were six failed tests in the 2018 edition, from 122 readings, with evidence of doping in some players since the age of 14.

Some parents and coaches are believed to have been involved in the administering of the drugs – it’s absolutely disgraceful.

Last year’s Craven Week findings were higher than usual, but they were not a bolt from the blue, with a minimum of three positive tests recorded in each tournament from 2014-2017.

Think of the more high-profile doping cases in rugby’s professional era, and Johan Ackermann, Johan Goosen, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Ashley Johnson and Gerbrandt Grobler invariably crop up. There is no escaping the fact that all five men are South African.

It is having a hugely detrimental impact on the perception of South African rugby, which is grossly unfair on the players who are not cheating to get ahead. The trust from the outside is wearing ominously thin.

The reaction to the topless group picture of the Springboks last week said it all.

To the best of my knowledge, not one player in the image has tested positive for a banned substance, yet their shredded physiques – many of them, including props, looking more like bodybuilders than rugby players – were immediately questioned.

South African players have always been physical. Plenty of the men I know from those parts have naturally big frames and did things by the book. Yet each doping scandal stains the overall reputation of the game in the Republic.

Doping, of course, is not a uniquely South African issue, but the problem seems to be much greater there than in any other rugby-playing nation.

There have been numerous positive tests for club players in New Zealand, Wales and England, for instance, possibly in a desperate attempt to make a jump to the elite level.

People will argue that doping is prevalent in Ireland too, and they may be right, but we have no evidence to suggest there is a problem with illegal drug use among rugby players in this country.

As I have said many times before, I never encountered doping during all of my years in club, provincial and international dressing-rooms. That’s not to say players were not using illegal substances, but there was no systematic doping culture in Irish rugby.

I’ve debated this with the likes of Paul Kimmage before, a man I admire for his determination to tackle the use of illegal drugs in sport, but as far as I can see, and from what I hear, the South African doping culture is far removed from anywhere else.

It’s difficult to build and evolve a testing system to get ahead of the cheats; we have learned that from the scandals that have shaken cycling and athletics to their core. But in terms of the rugby conversation, there is a system in place to catch dopers, and its net is continuously being cast that bit wider.

Testing is done inside and outside of competition, there is targeted testing if a player’s performances are ringing alarm bells, and the IRFU are on board with Sport Ireland’s ‘User Pays’ testing, covering the cost for additional tests to be conducted.

In the 2018/19 season there were 322 tests for illegal drugs in Irish rugby, an increase of 32 per cent on the previous campaign, with a particular focus on U-20 players and senior men’s sides ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

In 2018, rugby was second on Sport Ireland’s drugs test list – to cycling – a reflection of the fact that it is now seen as a high-risk sport for doping, considering its physical nature and the rewards that exist for the game’s elite players.

There hasn’t yet been a high-profile doping case in Irish rugby. If that day does come, then that would truly be shocking.

In the case of South African rugby, sadly, Dyantyi is just another name."
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Post by jimbopip on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 1:03 pm

I know this is really an unscientific, and totally evidence-free, comment but....

Five of the Springboks team who won the World Cup in front of Nelson Mandela have now passed away. I can't help thinking that from a very small group of very fit young men that is an extremely high mortality rate.
Have any of the other top level countries at that tournament anything like the same rate of early deaths?

In all seriousness this is not a wind up or a cheap shot at the Boks. It is a serious question.

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Post by Galted on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 2:58 pm

jimbopip wrote:I know this is really an unscientific, and totally evidence-free, comment but....

Five of the Springboks team who won the World Cup in front of Nelson Mandela have now passed away. I can't help thinking that from a very small group of very fit young men that is an extremely high mortality rate.
Have any of the other top level countries at that tournament anything like the same rate of early deaths?

In all seriousness this is not a wind up or a cheap shot at the Boks. It is a serious question.

It's four of the Springboks. I'm not sure how much you can read into Kruger and vd Westhuizen dying (cancer and mnd) but Small and Williams both dying of heart attacks is a bit suspect.
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Post by Old Man on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 3:28 pm

It is a good time to stop recruiting South African players, it will only end in shame.

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Post by Galted on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 3:32 pm

Old Man wrote:It is a good time to stop recruiting South African players, it will only end in shame.

Haha, a sense of shame is something the countries doing the recruiting appear not to have.
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Post by Taylorman on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 7:44 pm

Galted wrote:
Old Man wrote:It is a good time to stop recruiting South African players, it will only end in shame.

Haha, a sense of shame is something the countries doing the recruiting appear not to have.

Hey hey, very true.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 8:55 pm

Lol, NZ have more residency qualified players than Ireland, Wales and a fair few other sides. Hypocrites.

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Post by ebop on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:23 pm

Kleyn qualified by 3 days and poor old Toner the thug got shafted, lol.
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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:31 pm

Is that funnier than having a rugby scholarship wife beater in your side?

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Post by ebop on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:32 pm

What ever happened to Paddy Jackson? And your captain Best vouched for him, lol
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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:34 pm

He was cast aside, plays in England for London Irish.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:38 pm

I wonder is Liam Squire depressed because he missed out to a Tongan? Or maybe Reiko Ioane is upset because a Fijian guilty of domestic abuse took his place?


Last edited by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:39 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by ebop on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:49 pm

So the Ireland captain Best was in court supporting Paddy Jackson on sexual assault charges. That’s a pretty bad look. Best must be a bit stupid.
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Post by Taylorman on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:50 pm

Collapse2005 wrote:I wonder is Liam Squire depressed because he missed out to a Tongan? Or maybe Reiko Ioane is upset because a Fijian guilty of domestic abuse took his place?

Good that the aptly named SOBs out though. Players won’t have to fear concussion this round huh?

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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:52 pm

Yes of course its well known it doesnt count when NZ do it.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 9:58 pm

ebop wrote:So the Ireland captain Best was in court supporting Paddy Jackson on sexual assault charges. That’s a pretty bad look. Best must be a bit stupid.

Well it turned out he was right because unlike Sevu Reece Paddy Jackon was found to be innocent of all charges.

Its well known that as long as you are good at rugby you will get away with pretty much anything in NZ. The mind boggles as to exactly what else the ABs have covered up over the years.

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Post by Taylorman on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 10:05 pm

Collapse2005 wrote:Yes of course its well known it doesnt count when NZ do it.

Oh, SBWs red for a lesser head contact didn’t count? Geez, news to me. Shoulda told him he should have been more sneaky as SOB was and keep it out of camera view.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Sat 14 Sep 2019, 10:11 pm

Ha cant believe you are still upset about that Sean O'Brien non event. Jesus wept. Not sure it could have been any more innocuous.

You always can tell a player is good when Kiwis hold a grudge against them for no reason. Drico, O'Brien, both legends.

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Post by Taylorman on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 12:31 am

BOD was a great player, though 14 matches for 14 losses, almost half of all Ireland’s matches vs NZ puts a damper on that. Spent a lot of that time whining a bit. SOBs 1 win from 6 isnt much better.

If they’re legends gotta wonder what the rest were doing? Seems Ireland are better once they left. How does that work? Headscratch

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 8:24 am

It still amuses me when people try to link how good a player is to a tick in the wins column in a team game.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 8:30 am

I cant believe BOD played 14 games v NZ. That doesnt sound right. Maybe it is but agree with 7.5 anyway.

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Post by ebop on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 8:50 am

We heard so much about BOD but when we saw him with our own eyes he always flattered to deceive. Maybe he was good but we don’t rate him and never will. And he cried like a baby and still does.
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Post by No 7&1/2 on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 9:00 am

Nothing wrong with a man crying. Though there may be something wrong with your eyes if you never rated BOD.

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Post by ebop on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 9:38 am

Indeed, nothing wrong with a man crying. But a man whining like a 5 year old is off-putting. Fair enough 7.5, you rate him, but BOD is nothing but average in my eyes. Below average even.
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Post by Collapse2005 on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 9:41 am

I think you might be a bit jealous Ebop because you know he was a better, more exciting player than anyone you had in NZ at the time and since and that makes you feel a little upset or angry inside.

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Post by Old Man on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 9:52 am

Amazing how a thread intended to expose Performance enhancing drugs in South African rugby turns into a New Zealand vs Ireland slugfest.

Seems like the number one ranking does after all influence the way people behave.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 10:06 am

Drugs in rugby is still behind closed doors. Much like football. Ebops ignorance is out in the open.

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Post by Taylorman on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 10:36 am

Old Man wrote:Amazing how a thread intended to expose Performance enhancing drugs in South African rugby turns into a New Zealand vs Ireland slugfest.

Seems like the number one ranking does after all influence the way people behave.

True, reading the article properly seems more eyes than usual will be on the Boks and let’s hope there’s not a another issue at the tournament.

Japan will not be impressed.

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Post by Taylorman on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 10:39 am

Collapse2005 wrote:I think you might be a bit jealous Ebop because you know he was a better, more exciting player than anyone you had in NZ at the time and since and that makes you feel a little upset or angry inside.

No doubting he was a great player. He just wasn’t against us bar a couple of tries and runs. What would you think if I’d called one of our players a legend if they lost to yours 14 times out of 14? I’d say you’d be in stitches. I mean you say that about our players when they lose one!

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Post by LondonTiger on Sun 15 Sep 2019, 10:42 am

As this thread has descended into another Ireland/NZ slagfest of which we have plenty open already you can use I am closing this. 

Any one who wishes to discuss drug taking in Rugby can either start a new thread or restart any of the existing ones created when issues in various countries have been raised.

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