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High-profile doping cases: The ugly reality

SPOTLIGHT: Former Springbok captain Mahlatse ‘Chiliboy’ Ralepelle’s latest ban, of eight years, has again shone a light on the ugly reality of doping in the sporting code.


While doping is certainly not exclusive to rugby, the widespread use of it among top athletes not only have negative consequences on the player, but also on the image of the sport.

The use of performance-enhancing drugs is a factor that needs to be addressed continuously.

A look at high-profile doping cases!

1 Aphiwe Dyantyi:

The Springbok and Lions wing’s positive doping Test sent shockwaves through the country. Not only was he destined to make the World Cup squad, but his meteoric rise was an inspiration to everyone.

In 2019 Dyantyi tested positive for three banned substances namely Metandienone, Methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

The 2018 World Breakthrough Player of the Year is currently facing a ban of up to four years.

His hearing still needs to take place.

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2 Johan Goosen

The 2010 Craven week player of the Year tested positive for Methylhexaneamine in the same year.

Goosen’s doping test was indeed a worrying sign for the future of SA Rugby because aside from his positive results, two other Under-19 players also tested for banned substances in 2010.

The flyhalf was consequently suspended for three months.
Methylhexaneaminem which stimulates the central nervous system and increase the body’s metabolic rate to give it an energy boost was added to the banned list in 2010.

Fortunately for Goosen, his image was far from tainted as he went onto become a member of the South Africa Under-20 team at the 2011 Junior World Championship and a year later made his Springbok debut.


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3 Mahlatse ‘Chiliboy’ Ralepelle

In 2006 Ralepelle made history when becoming the first black player – and the youngest – to captain the Springboks – in a match against the World XV at Walkers Stadium in Leicester.

However, the 33-year-old’s 10-year long rugby career has been clouded with numerous doping cases.
His first doping incident was in 2010, when he and fellow Springbok 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.

In 2014, Ralepelle again positive while playing in for French club Toulouse and was banned for two years.

And just last week, after news broke last year that the former Sharks hooker tested positive for Zeranol, he was slapped with an eight year-ban.

His lawyer, Hendrik Hugo of ENS Africa, told @rugby365com there are “many grounds” for an appeal.

They have three weeks in which they can launch an appeal.

4 Johan Ackermann

Before becoming a very prominent coaching figure worldwide, the former Springbok lock also had a doping case.

In 1997 Ackermann was banned for two years after testing positive for the steroid Nandrolone.

It was certainly a dark period for the Springbok, who at the time of the case had accumulated four Tests caps.

However, Ackermann – after serving his ban – was on the path to redemption and in 2007 he became the oldest Springbok to play a Test, at the age of 37.

5 Ashley Johnson

In 2018, the Springbok, who recently left Wasps after an eight-year stint, was suspended for six months after testing positive for a banned substance.

Johnson’s urine sample tested positive for the presence of hydrochlorothiazide (S5 Diuretics and Masking Agents).

The 32-year-old claimed that the positive test was the result of mistakenly consuming his wife’s dietary supplement – a fat burner called “The Secret” – which she purchased from South Africa.

The product was tested by both the player and the RFU for hydrochlorothiazide, which was not listed in the product’s ingredients, and on both occasions, it returned a positive result.

  • Other figures who have tested positive for a banned substance are former Western Province and Springbok prop Cobus Visagie, Gloucester lock Gerbrandt Grobler and 23-year-old Lions utility back Stean Pienaar.

Compiled by Leezil Hendricks

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