Rugby produces most positive doping tests – Saids report

18 September 2019 - 15:48
By Craig Ray
Aphiwe Dyantyi of the Lions during the Emirates Lions mixed zone at Museum, Emirates Airline Park on June 11, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images Aphiwe Dyantyi of the Lions during the Emirates Lions mixed zone at Museum, Emirates Airline Park on June 11, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The latest annual report from the South African Institute for Drug Free (Saids) makes uncomfortable reading for rugby‚ in particular‚ as it was the sport that returned the most adverse findings.

In all Saids conducted 1584 tests across a wide range of sports with athletics and rugby the most targeted.

Saids conducted 427 tests in athletics and 342 in rugby.

Rugby produced 16 adverse findings‚ or 4.7% positive tests‚ including six schoolboys from samples taken at the 2018 Craven Week.

It’s not a good look on the eve of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

The sport was rocked last month when star wing Aphiwe Dyantyi returned a positive A and B sample for the use of three anabolic steroids.

Dyantyi maintains his innocence but unless he can produce compelling and plausible evidence about how the substances appeared in his system‚ he is likely to be banned for four years.

On Tuesday Springbok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot faced some uncomfortable questioning from members of the Irish media in Tokyo about doping in South African rugby.

“It’s not a good look for rugby because the international average for positive tests is about one per cent‚” Saids Chief executive Khalid Galant told SowetanLIVE.

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“SA is in the top 10 for adverse findings.

“But there are a lot of factors and variables to consider as well. We have a very sophisticated programme and rugby is one of the most tested sports because the country competes at a very high level.

“I’m not saying there isn’t a doping or steroid problem in rugby but we do have the most sophisticated labs in Africa.

“Rugby is also targeted more because it's a sport with a high commercial value. Football and cricket are high participation sports but seen as medium risk in terms of doping.

“The last positive test we had in football was three years ago and that was for cocaine and in cricket we had a marijuana positive a few years back and another player for a stimulant found in weight loss products.

“More tests are conducted in South African rugby than in New Zealand for example.”

Across all sports Saids said there were 50 anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs).

It also outlines how a partnership with the Hawks – South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – led to prosecutions of two athletes for trafficking and tampering with doping control processes.

Saids also successfully prosecuted an Athlete Biological Passport case against a leading national cyclist during the reporting period.

The 1‚584 tests represent a decline from the 1‚659 in 2017/18‚ but Galant explained that this is an “ongoing trend as our test distribution plan becomes increasingly targeted and risk-based‚ rather than random”.

There were 46 ADRVs in 2017/18. All six tested positive for anabolic steroids.

Their names have not been made public as they are minors.

Galant expressed concern at the number of ADRVs at schoolboy level and pointed to a “high tolerance by parents and coaches to doping practices.”