• SA Rugby: We want to catch cheats

    SA Rugby has reiterated its stance on combating doping in schoolboy rugby, saying they ‘test more aggressively at schoolboy level than any other federation in the world’.

    The governing body was reacting to a SA Rugby magazine request following a BBC report titled: ‘Steriods at 16: South Africa’s schoolboy rugby scene faces a widespread doping problem’.

    The report was littered with examples of doping allegations at schoolboy level, but SA Rugby insists it is working hard alongside the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport to catch cheats.

    ‘In conjunction with the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) – to whom SA Rugby has ceded all testing of players and the management of anti-doping rule violations – we test more aggressively at schoolboy level than any other federation in the world, although England have now stepped up their interventions. We want to catch cheats,’ said a spokesperson for SA Rugby.

    In the past number of years, we have tested many schoolboys in the only place we have jurisdiction to test – our Youth Week tournaments. In fact, we pay for additional tests over and above what SAIDS would normally conduct. Every year all attendees at the U16 and U18 tournaments undergo compulsory doping education.

    Even though we do not have jurisdiction at schools, we write regularly to the principals of rugby-playing schools reminding them of their duty of care to their boys and urging them to voluntarily enrol in SAIDS testing programmes. A number of them do. 

    ‘SAIDS has complete independent jurisdiction at the professional level of the game – here we regularly educate and test players – and the incidence of suspensions of players in the South African game is not out of sync with international norms.’

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