Noakes: Drug disappears fast
Edinburgh – The chances of more positive tests for banned substances on the Springbok tour appear to be extremely slim.
Positive tests returned by Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson for the stimulant methylhexaneamine prompted fears that the entire tour squad may be in danger of testing positive.
But well-known sports scientist Prof. Tim Noakes said on Tuesday that methylhexaneamine disappears from someone’s system within “24 to 36 hours”.
The Springbok camp also confirmed on Tuesday that all supplements had been given the red card for now.
If it is a supplement used by the team that was responsible for the positive tests returned by Ralepelle and Basson, it’s highly unlikely that it will still be in the system of other players come the next batch of tests after Saturday’s Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Ralepelle and Basson were tested after South Africa’s 23-21 win over Ireland in Dublin, however no tests were conducted after the weekend’s match against Wales in Cardiff.
Noakes also does not believe that Ralepelle and Basson could have gained any advantage from the use of methylhexaneamine and views the entire matter as a storm in a teacup.
“This is not a doping incident. It’s an incident of inadvertent use through medication of a supplement. To call these guys dopers would be unfair. You can’t label someone a crook if he’s not one,” said Prof Noakes.
“Doping agencies have to make a fuss every so often. In this case it’s doing harm.”
“Let’s focus on what is important. Let’s find the steroid-users.”
Noakes thinks it’s ridiculous to even look at the Ralepelle-Basson issue as a doping matter.
“It’s not doping. It’s an adverse chemical reaction.”
He added that there are few supplements that really offer any significant value and in the recent past a medical committee recommended to the South African Rugby Union that supplements should rather not be used by players.
“The contamination only has to be trivial for a positive test to be returned.”
Meanwhile, the Springbok team has closed the chapter on the issue and no longer wants to discuss it.
“The process is still continuing and we have sent some of our stuff to be tested. We don’t want another incident. We dealt with the issue fully on Monday, have moved on and are now focusing on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Peter de Villiers.
“We are professional and know how to handle tough situations. The team is looking forward to playing at Murrayfield.”
South African captain Victor Matfield was also not in the mood to continue talking about the issue.
“We dealt with the issue on Monday ... Of course it’s difficult two lose two of your mates, but we still have work to do. We want to move forward,” said Matfield.
“There are goals that we would like to achieve on this tour. We’re still not happy with the way we have played. We have won two games, but there is still a lot of hard work ahead of us. That is what we’re focusing on.”
Ralepelle and Basson were both treated for flu in the build-up to the test against Ireland, but Noakes doubts any product prescribed by team doctor Craig Roberts would have been to blame for them returning positive tests.
“Dr. Roberts has years of experience as a team doctor. He would not have anything with him that is banned.”
Meanwhile the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) has said that they will help ensure that the players get the best legal representation and assistance.
“The positive tests by Chili and Bjorn is a major source of concern for SARPA. The association already have the necessary processes in place to ensure that the players get the best legal representation and assistance,” said SARPA chief executive Piet Heymans.
“It is now of critical interest that everything possible is done to gain all information and take steps to ensure that our two members get a fair hearing.
“The players also have access to a 24-hour helpline that can provide them with support, advice and assistance if they need it during this difficult time.
“Not only does the incident again place the spotlight on the manufacturers of these products, but consideration will also have to be given to getting written undertakings and guarantees from the manufacturers before professional rugby players use these products.”