16 November 2010

Springboks, a threat to all codes

The banned stimulant Springboks Bjorn Basson and Chilliboy Ralepelle were tested positive for after the team's opening test against Ireland possess a real threat to sportsmen.


The banned stimulant Springboks Bjorn Basson and Chilliboy Ralepelle were tested positive for after the team's opening test against Ireland possess a real threat to sports men and women across the world, South African Institute for Drug Free Sport chairman Dr Shuaid Manjra said.

"The fact that there have been more than 20 reported cases of methylhexaneamine found in athletes from around the world this year is very concerning," said Manjra.

"We are advising all athletes to stay away from supplements as it could be possible that these substances are found in some of the brands they are using." Manjra was speaking shortly after the South African Rugby Union had announced that Basson and Ralepelle will not take part in any of the Springboks' remaining matches on their tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

It is being alleged that the caffeine-like stimulant that was found in the players' blood is because both were treated for flu before the tour.

Springbok doctor Craig Roberts said that the medicines they were administered had never raised concern in this regard and that they are investigating all possible scenarios of how it could have entered the players' bodies.

Different sources

"The substance could come from many different sources," Roberts told

"What we are doing now is going through the process of looking at all the possibilities and exhausting them one by one. Obviously we need to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible."

Manjra said that the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport are yet to take a stance on this matter, but will act in according to a set list of recommendations.

"We wouldn't pass judgement at this stage there are still procedures that have to be completed and the players still have the option to provide a B-sample for testing," said Manjara.

"The sentence for a non-specified substance is a two year ban as prescribed by the World Anti Doing Agency (WADA), but from January methylhexaneamine will be a on the list of classified illegal substances, which will mean lesser sentences."

Manjra added that further concern had arisen because the substance in question is being used as a recreational drug as well.

Help with indigestion

However, he also said that it must be noted that products containing methylhexaneamine can - for instance - be found certain products that are freely available in Australian pharmacies.

The products are believed to help with indigestion and as a result nine Australian athletes were tested positive prior Commonwealth Games in India.

Manjra said in his initial reaction to the news of the Springbok players' positive test results that there is reason to believe Basson and Ralepelle are not guilty of deliberately trying to enhance their performances.

"Both players testing positive for the same substance is an indication that they may not have been aware of what they were administered.

The big question

"It also raised the question as to what the results would have been had more players been tested."

"At this stage we are not sure what the circumstances are and can only speculate as to what - if any - the repercussions will be."

Less than a month ago former Grey College flyhalf Free Johan Goosen tested positive for the same stimulant.

He pleaded guilty on the charge claiming gross negligence.

According to Goosen he changed his vitamin supplements and what could have been a career ending ban was reduced to only three months by a SA Rugby Union judicial panel. (Sapa/ November 2010)

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