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Saids: Doping in school rugby alarming

Saids CEO Khalid Galant presented the report to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Sport on Tuesday and disclosed that six Craven Week schoolboy rugby players tested positive for doping in 2018.

Picture: pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) has presented its 2017/18 annual report and revealed that a total of 1,659 athletes were tested during the year.

These included 1,312 urine tests, 296 blood tests and 29 tests for EPO (erythropoietin). A total of 46 anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) were detected during the period.

Saids CEO Khalid Galant, together with representatives from the Saids board, presented the report to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Sport on Tuesday and disclosed that six Craven Week schoolboy rugby players tested positive for doping in 2018.

He said the number of ADRVs at schoolboy rugby level continues to be “alarming” and expressed concern at “the high tolerance of parents and coaches to doping practices”.

A total of 122 tests of Craven Week players were undertaken in 2018, both during the tournament and out-of-competition. The names of the players have not been made public as they are minors. The six players all tested positive for anabolic steroids.

The corresponding number of positive tests in recent years was three in 2014, six in 2015, five in 2015 and three in 2017.

The annual report indicated that the most tested sports category in 2017/18 was athletics (including long-distance running), with 546 tests and six ADRVs. A total of 391 rugby union players were tested during that period, with seven ADRVs and 267 cyclists with three ARDVs.

A total of 23 tests were carried out on bodybuilders with 14 ADRVs, 11 of which were at one single competition – by far the highest in any single sports code.

The number of tests were partially restricted in the year in question after the SA Doping Control Laboratory in Bloemfontein lost its World Anti-Doping Authority (Wada) accreditation. This meant that samples had to be couriered to Wada accredited laboratories overseas at a considerable cost. The laboratory is run entirely independently of Saids.

Earlier this year, Galant wrote to school rugby tournament organisers explaining the Saids Clean School Sport Policy, in terms of which “anti-doping detection, deterrence and prevention strategies will be extended to include in-competition testing at selected school sport events and tournaments”.

This was being undertaken in collaboration with the SA Schools Rugby Association (Sasra) and was supported by the SA Rugby Union and the Department of Sports and Recreation. Galant pointed out in the letter that anti-doping education was an integral part of the policy.

“The individual participating schools are encouraged to schedule an anti-doping education session so that the learners, coaches and parents are aware of the drug testing process, what to expect, the dangers of doping, the risks of using dietary or sports supplements and the educational resources available to prevent falling foul of anti-doping regulations.”

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