Ralepelle: 'Lots of room for legal argument'
REACTION: Former Springboks captain Mahlatse Ralepelle will most likely be ‘advised’ by his legal counsel to appeal his eight-year ban.
Ralepelle, affectionately known as Chiliboy, was banned by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport this week after testing positive for the banned anabolic substance Zeranol at an out-of-competition test on January 17 last year.
His lawyer, Hendrik Hugo of ENS Africa, told @rugby365com there are “many grounds” of appeal.
He explained that there were two ‘findings’ – the first was on the merits of the case and the second was on the sanction.
“In our view, from a legal perspective, there are many grounds of appeal,” Hugo said, adding that as ‘creatures of instruction’ they will work on the instruction of Ralepelle and what he wants to do.
They have three weeks in which they can launch an appeal.
“We are acting on what’s in his best interest.
“From a legal perspective, there is more than one ground to appeal.”
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They are currently preparing their legal opinion for Ralepelle to make an informed decision.
He pointed out that the judgement consists of more than 100 pages, 80 on the merits of the case and 20 on the judgement.
There are also about 1,000 pages of evidence.
“It is a bit of an extensive exercise, but it [a decision] will happen sooner, rather than later.”
Asked what some of the grounds are for appeal, he said the length of the ban is an issue.
“The standard imposed on my client in 2014 [while at Toulouse in France] was two years,” Hugo told @rugby365com, adding: “For a second guilty offence – which we are still denying, in terms of the merits – it must be double the standard imposed.
“My client should have been given a four-year ban.”
SAIDS, in their ruling, said Ralepelle had previously tested positive on two separate occasions while playing overseas.
His first brush with doping agencies came in 2010, when he and fellow Bok Bjorn Basson tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine – following the Springboks’ 23-21 win over Ireland in Dublin on November 6 that year.
However, this was ruled a ‘No Fault’ decision and he received a reprimand – as it was believed to have been contained in a supplement used by the entire national team.
On 19 March 2014, Ralepelle faced an out-of-competition drugs test, after injuring his knee in a match for French club Toulouse. He was slapped with a two-year ban.
SAIDS, in their ruling this week, said: ‘Ralepelle had previously tested positive on two separate occasions while playing overseas. The Zeranol positive case was his third positive dope test during his playing career within a 10 year period.’
However, his legal team believes it is only his second guilty verdict.
“There is a lot of room for legal argument around which rules had to apply,” Hugo told @rugby365com.
“The rules are pretty clear, it is double the initial ban for a second offence.
“You can clearly and succinctly understand there are many grounds of appeal.”
Ralepelle’s lawyer said they will also consider appealing the guilty finding in the latest case.
Ralepelle, 33, featured in 25 Tests for his country – his debut against New Zealand in Pretoria in August 2006 and his last Test against England at Newlands in June 2018.
In 2006 he skippered the Springboks in a midweek tour match against a World XV in Leicester – to become the first black captain of the Boks.