SAIDS concerned by rise in schoolboy rugby doping offences

Varsity Cup and schoolboy rugby produce far more doping offenders when compared to the professionals.

Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) Chief Executive Khalid Galant has told EWN Sport there is a concerning trend regarding an increase in doping amongst schoolboy rugby players.

Yesterday, it was reported that 18 South African rugby players were found guilty of doping, which puts the spotlight on the integrity of the sport in the country.

The highest profile name out in the public domain is Sharks hooker Mondo Hadebe, with two other players still in the hearing process.

The other players found guilty are either playing at Currie Cup or age-group level. Some of the players are still minors and therefore their names can't be disclosed.

Steroids is the most used illegal substance, according to SAIDS, with Varsity Cup and school rugby producing far more doping offenders when compared to the professionals in South Africa.

The fact that more juniors are found guilty of doping than professionals is a headache for SA Rugby as well as an indicator of how widespread the problem is.

In fairness to SA Rugby, they are well aware of the issue and have gone as far as to pen letters to several headmasters encouraging them to engage on the issue.

Galant says SAIDS is also being proactive in terms of educating pupils on doping.

"There continues to be growing trend that is worrying to us about doping in schoolboy drug use in rugby. We have had numerous interventions through education and through testing and even sessions with headmasters and school governing bodies."

Galant noted their partnership with SA Rugby in tackling the matter.

"SARU have been very supportive and have added their voice."

It was reported that representatives from French rugby clubs were actively scouting talent at Craven Week. The money in France is an attractive proposition for many of South Africa's professionals and now the clubs are allegedly set to offer the nation's next generation lucrative contracts that cannot be countered by local unions.

Galant believes this adds to pressure on schoolboys with junior rugby receiving more exposure than ever before

"The stakes are high, if you watch Craven Week it was on TV every day. There were agents walking around offering contracts, so the stakes are high, and when the stakes are that high people are always tempted to take shortcuts."

Galant says they have a robust testing system at Craven Week, having tested over 100 players.

In the last five years, Galant says SAIDS data indicates a very concerning surge in doping.