Stimulant roughs up SA rugby

2010-11-21 14:22

SOUTH African rugby was dragged kicking and screaming into the broader sports doping debate this week after Springboks Chiliboy ­Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson ­became the latest athletes worldwide to fall afoul of the stimulant methylhexaneamine.

Attempts to find out more about methylhexaneamine from the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU’s) medical department were met with the statement that “advice given to staff was to provide no comment”.

Respected Cape Town-based sports scientist Professor Tim Noakes explained that methylhexaneamine disappeared from the body within 24 to 36 hours (which implies that Basson and Ralepelle probably ingested it the day before, or on the day of, the Test against Ireland).

Springbok coach Peter de ­Villiers said that his team was trying to find out the source of the problem.
He confirmed that the Boks had submitted their official
energy drinks for testing.

The mystery could, and should, have been solved easily by asking the players to tell the team doctor exactly what ­supplements they had stashed in their hotel rooms.

South African rugby might not be ready to admit it, but these days everybody from size-obsessed schoolboys to prominent Springboks use a cocktail of supplements freely available in pharmacies and health shops, in the mistaken belief that the substances will make them ­better players.

Anabolic steroid abuse in South African rugby is rife, but ironically it has taken a relatively innocuous stimulant like methylhexaneamine to provide the sport with a wake-up call.

Will players heed the warnings and avoid being seduced by the supplement ­marketers?
That is unlikely to happen, given that rugby players – like all other sportsmen and women – will do anything to reach the top of their game.

Previous rugby offenders include Johan Ackermann, Jonathan Mudrovic, Johan Goosen, Herkie Kruger, Pieter de Villiers (no relation to the Bok coach), Ronwin Kelly, Abrie ­Marais and David Britz.

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