Johannesburg - A total of 55 doping rule violations were reported across 13 sports disciplines in South Africa between April 2011 and June 2012, the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (Saids) announced on Wednesday.
SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant said its annual report showed that anabolic steroids (18 cases) and stimulants (16 cases) were the performance enhancing drugs of choice for South African sportsmen and women who broke the rules.
"The concern we have is that athletes continue to have a 'laissez faire' attitude towards sports supplements, even though they run the risk of it severely impacting on the longevity of their sports careers," Galant said in a statement.
"This is despite numerous warnings to treat the use of sport supplements with caution, in the light of the numerous doping positives where athletes have attributed their positive results to supplements."
Other banned substances that athletes tested positive for included cannabinoids (13 cases), diuretics (four) and glucocorticosteroid (three).
In addition, three athletes were charged with "failure to comply" in either trying to evade or subvert the drug testing process.
As the sports supplement market was not regulated, Galant said manufacturers were not obliged to list all the ingredients on the product label. Many sports supplements contain banned substances like anabolic steroids, pro hormones and stimulants, which are often disguised under labelled ingredients such as "testosterone booster" or "growth-hormone accelerator".
Galant said Saids was encouraged by the Informed-Sport programme - an international sports doping control laboratory which had set up shop in South Africa.
"Informed-Sport will analyse supplements to ascertain whether they contain banned substances in the product, and when a product is clean, it will be certified with an Informed-Sport stamp," he said.
"In South Africa, we have taken note that our athletes are becoming more litigious and are employing legal tactics in efforts to either delay or thwart the anti-doping legal process.
"Numerous athletes threaten us with lawsuits in the hope that the doping charges will be dropped."
Some of the high profile doping cases over the past few months included promising long jumper Luvo Manyonga, who tested positive for methamphetamine, and Comrades Marathon champion Ludwick Mamabolo, who faces a doping charge after testing positive for methylhexaneamine.