Following Aphiwe Dyantyi’s failed drug test, JOHN GOLIATH looks at five other prominent Springboks who also tested positive for banned substances.
In 1997 the former Springbok lock was banned for two years after traces of nandrolone was found in his system.
Ackermann had played four Tests for the Boks when ‘a friend in the police’ told him that taking the substance would speed up his recovery from a knee injury.
‘I had to work all my way back. Rugby had just turned pro and guys had started to sign contracts. I was on the verge of signing pro – working with the police, I was limited financially. So I thought I could finally buy my first car and maybe a house,’ Ackermann said last year in an interview with The Sun.
After getting his career back on track, Ackermann became the oldest Springbok, at 37, to play for the national side in 2007.
In October 2000, former Western Province and Springbok tighthead prop Visagie failed a dope test after a Currie Cup match.
At a tribunal in December of that year, he claimed the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone he tested positive for came from a supplement given to him by the then South African Rugby Football Union (Sarfu).
However Sarfu has rejected the claim, saying that the supplement, which was an American product, had been tested and found to have no effect on nandrolone production. Visagie was then banned for two years and called his sentence an ‘injustice’.
He appealed the ruling, but missed the Stormers’ 2011 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign because of the ban. However, he was then cleared of any wrongdoing in April 2001 and continued his career.
In 2010 South African rugby was rocked by three U19 players who failed drug tests.
One of them was Free State Cheetahs flyhalf Goosen, who was named 2010 Craven Week Player of the Year. He received a three-month ban after he tested positive for methylhexaneamine.
Methylhexaneamine is believed to stimulate the central nervous system and increase the body’s metabolic rate to give it an energy boost.
Goosen said the stimulant was present in a supplement that he bought over the counter in Bloemfontein.
After his ban, Goosen played for the South African U20 side in 2011, before making his Currie Cup debut for the Free State Cheetahs in 2011. A year later his Springbok debut came against Australia in Perth.
The former Springbok hooker tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone during a out-of-competition test in 2014.
Ralepelle was banned for two years and had his contract with French club Toulouse cancelled and returned to South Africa.
He returned to action for the Sharks in 2016, but was again in hot water before the start of their 2019 Super Rugby campaign when evidence of zeranol, a growth aid for livestock, was found in his blood following a random test.
The hooker has since maintained his innocence. ‘Once you know you’re not guilty of anything, you’re at peace with yourself,’ he said.
Back in 2010, Ralepelle tested positive for methylhexanamine on the Springbok end-of-year tour. However, he escaped a ban after it was later revealed that those tracings existed in some of the supplements supplied by the Boks themselves.
In 2018 former Springbok and Cheetahs flank Johnson was banned for six months after failing a drug test while playing for Wasps in England.
He tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide (S5 diuretics and masking agents), following an out-of-competition test at the Premiership club.
At the time, Johnson claimed he mistakenly consumed his wife’s dietary supplement – a fat burner called ‘The Secret’ – which was purchased in South Africa.
The product was tested for hydrochlorothiazide, which was not listed in the product’s ingredients, but returned a positive result.
‘I was horrified when I got the test results and once we tracked back and worked out I had inadvertently taken the wrong tablet,’ Johnson said at the time.
‘I completely accept that I am responsible for everything in my body.’