Boks on Tour

Boks reeling from dope scandal

2010-11-16 07:13
Chiliboy Ralepelle (Gallo)
Stephen Nell

Edinburgh - A panicked Springbok management team on Monday hurriedly sent several products to a laboratory to be tested, in order to prevent the crisis over forbidden substances in the Springbok touring squad camp from spreading.

This came after Bjorn Basson and Chiliboy Ralepelle tested positive for the forbidden stimulant methylhexaneamine. They left for home on Monday after the Bok camp received the shocking news in the early morning hours.

How the two Springboks could have tested positively is a mystery to team management. The urgent action of having products tested was taken in order to prevent any of the other Boks from unwittingly consuming the substance.

Basson and Ralepelle were both treated for flu before the Test against Ireland in Dublin. They were also the only Bok Test players who were tested for doping after the match.

No players were tested after Saturday's Test against Wales in Cardiff.

"We're doing everything we can to solve the situation. Everything in the camp is being tested. We don't want to expose the players to any risk, so we're going through everything from A to Z, including even the smallest energy drink. We've already sent the stuff away," said Bok coach Peter de Villiers on Monday.

"Eight players in the camp were tested before we came here and they were all clean. If we find something suspicious with any of the products we're having tested, we will take the next step.

"This is the third time this year that Chiliboy is tested for doping, and in both previous instances the results were negative."

De Villiers said both players were shocked when they were informed of the positive tests.

He received the news on Monday at 02:00 while he was busy with planning for this Saturday's Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) issued a warning about methylhexaneamine last week and said suspension for its use starts at two years. They warned against food supplements.

Ralepelle and Basson still have to decide, in consultation with their legal representatives, whether their B samples should be tested. Should the B samples confirm the positive tests, the two will have to appear at disciplinary hearings.

Although methylhexaneamine is found in nasal sprays, according to various internet sources, the Bok team doctor, Craig Roberts, said on Monday it's "highly unlikely" that the positive tests are the result of the players' treatment for flu.

"They were on flu medication, but it's medication we've been using for a long time and we've never had any problems with it."

The young Free State flyhalf Johan Goosen was recently suspended for three months after he tested positive for methylhexaneamine. Apparently it is found in certain food supplements.

"It could come from any number of sources - from food to medicine to supplements. We're now investigating to determine where it could have come from. The closest comparison I can make is with caffeine," said Roberts.

"We're investigating everything the two have in common to determine where it came from.

"It's a problematic product and various athletes have consumed it by accident. That's why it was reclassified as a specified stimulant. The punishment is far lighter then, since the substance can end up in your system by accident."

"By accident", however, will not serve as an excuse at a disciplinary hearing. The IRB's policy for trying players for forbidden substances is one of "absolute accountability". This means players are accountable and responsible for any forbidden substance found in their urine samples.

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