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Focus on SA's doping saga

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In a matter of months Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi went from World Cup-bound superstar to the face of a doping scandal in South Africa.


The Lions star’s meteoric rise was praised and well documented by the rugby fraternity.

With good reason. After a sensational season in 2018, for both the Springboks and the Lions, Dyantyi won Breakthrough Player of the Year at the World Rugby Awards in Monaco and became the first South African to win this prestigious award for players in their debut international season.

In 2019 is where it all went pearshaped.

The former University of Johannesburg talent sustained an injury, which kept him out of the Springboks squad. In August, while struggling with the setback, the news broke that the 25-year-old’s A and B urine samples have tested positive for a banned substance: methandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

According to the South African Institute for the Drug-Free Sports (SAIDS), “These performance-enhancing substances are on the 2019 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods in Sport, and are banned in- and out-of-competition,”

However, throughout the ordeal, Dyantyi’s camp has maintained his innocence.


The player is facing a four-year ban.

As Dyanty’s career came to an abrupt end, SA Rugby’s image also came under scrutiny.

Just before the opening World Cup match against New Zealand, then Springboks forward coach Matthew Proudfoot was forced to defend the country’s doping policy.

“I think the image of South African rugby is portrayed about what you see on the field. We’re a competitive nation. If you look at from our Sevens team competing on the world stage, our junior side third in the world, the Springboks competing well, the women’s team too,” Proudfoot explained.


“So that’s the image of South African rugby that needs to be attained. Of course, doping in sport is something that needs to be continually addressed.”

Focus on SA's doping saga

And it seems like SA Rugby has been it valid programs to combat the trend. Aside from regular testing, administrators also bombard professional players with information.

According to the year-long research project conducted by rugby players’ organisation MyPlayers, four in five players felt “they are well informed about doping in professional rugby, including what substances they are prohibited from taking,”

Focus on SA's doping saga

However, there are still some cases which go unnoticed.

“Three players admitted to having deliberately taken banned performance-enhancing substances without getting caught,”

Furthermore, the concern is that players do not take responsibility for their part in minimizing the problem.

Research showed that ‘only 44 percent doubles check whether supplements and medicine given to them by their agents of employers were cleared for banned substances,’

The other issue that needs to be addressed is addictions to pain medications.

While “no one admitted to being addicted to pain medication. One recently retired professional rugby player said that players often only become aware of an addiction to pain medication after they have retired.”

Compiled by Leezil Hendricks
*Additional Source: MyPlayers

* Also read: The politics behind SA player exodus

Please note: My Players made use of in-person interviews and online questionnaires to gather information. All data were recorded or captured anonymously to protect player privacy and to encourage truthful responses. Only senior franchise players, Springboks and Blitzboks were interviewed, while an online survey was sent to all professional rugby players in South Africa.

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