Dyantyi faces 4-year ban for anabolic steroid use

Aphiwe Dyantyi (Gallo Images)
Aphiwe Dyantyi (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Springbok and Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi faces a four-year ban after sensational confirmation on Friday the 25-year-old had tested positive for "multiple" banned substances.

A sample was collected from Dyantyi on July 2 at a Springbok training camp.

On August 13, the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) informed Dyantyi that an adverse analytical finding had been detected in the sample.

Dyantyi, who was provisionally suspended in light of the finding, exercised his right to have his 'B'-sample analysed.

At the time, Dyantyi issued a statement saying: "I want to deny ever taking any prohibited substance, intentionally or negligently, to enhance my performance on the field," he said after the A sample result was disclosed.

"I have never cheated and never will. The presence of this prohibited substance in my body has come as a massive shock to me."

On Friday, SAIDS confirmed that the 'B'-sample was tested at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory at the University of the Free State which confirmed the 'A'-sample results of the presence of no fewer than three banned substances: metandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

These performance-enhancing substances, which all fall under the Class S1 of banned substances, are on the 2019 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods in Sport, and are banned both in and out of competition. 

As a result, Dyantyi has now been formally charged with a doping offence for multiple anabolic steroids and metabolites.

SAIDS confirmed to Sport24 on Friday that the World Anti-Doping Code framework for sanctions is FOUR years for anabolic steroids.

SA Rugby has been made aware of the charge.

Dyantyi made his Springbok debut in June last year against England at Ellis Park and played his last Test against Wales in Cardiff on the end of year tour. To date he has 13 Test caps.

A four-year ban, backdated to the date of confirmation, would effectively rule Dyantyi out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Combined with the predictable loss of sponsors and club and national contracts, it spells a costly road ahead for the 2018 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year.

What next for Dyantyi?

Moving forward, Dyantyi has the option of admitting to the charge and accepting a sanction based on the World Doping Code’s framework.   

He may also submit a plea for consideration of a reduced sanction by providing mitigating circumstances. 

Dyantyi also has the right to contest the charge before an independent tribunal panel. If he disputes the charge and pleads not guilty, a hearing will be set down within the next four weeks, and he will be required to provide evidence that can prove his innocence. The independent tribunal panel will then adjudicate over the proceeding and hand down a decision.

Sport24 reached out to world-renowned sport scientist Dr Ross Tucker on Twitter to for an explainer of the steroids in question as well as the process ahead.

In a detailed 14-post explanation, Tucker confirmed:

Let’s briefly talk about some background on #Dyantiand doping. A short thread. Specifcally, we are looking at metandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033, which are the substances confirmed as found in his A & B samples, for which he’s now charged:

First, let’s orientate ourselves about what we’re dealing with. All 3 those substances are in Class S1, in substances & methods prohibited at all times. S1 is anabolic agents, Testosterone, Stanozol, DHEA the most famous of them. I’ve highlighted in yellow the 3 in Dyanti’s case

Anabolic agents (aka androgenic agents) are responsible for “building up". Muscle, especially. Androgenic = “male making”, so again, muscle growth & repair, improved recovery, greater strength gains when training, injury repair. Hence their placement on the banned list.

Obviously, the question that must be answered is whether Dyanti doped or not? The presence of those substances means “yes”, though the likely rebuttal will be “I didn’t take them on purpose, this is ‘inadvertent doping’”, which is pretty much always to the go-to line

To show inadvertent doping, player needs to show that he took a supplement that was contaminated with banned substances. But that’s only part of it. He also has to show that he took reasonable precautions to avoid inadvertent doping. That is, they can’t have been “reckless”

“My bad, I didn’t realise”, or “I took something a company gave me as a sponsorship” is not valid, because the athlete is ultimately liable for what is in their body. A pro athlete pretty much has to always assume they’re an hour away from being tested, so must constantly ask...

…”Is there a chance that this powder/pill/liquid contains banned drugs?”. And that puts the onus on them to research it, to get assurances from independent third-parties (the sport’s governing body, or quality assuring regulators) that they’re on safe ground, doping wise

If the player hasn’t done this, then it doesn’t matter if it’s an accident or not, it’s as good as doping (otherwise they’d never be able to prove and sanction any doping offences!). So it *can* happen that athletes prove inadvertent doping, but the bar is (necessarily) high

I don’t know what Dyanti will offer as explanation, now that he’s charged, but history shows that supplement contamination is the most common (LGD4033 may be familiar to some because of Shayna Jack’s case, in AUS swimming, remember? Same defence). This excuse is tough to prove

This is especially true because the supplement industry is notoriously unregulated, especially here in SA, and so a player who takes a supplement WITHOUT doing the necessary checks is playing doping Russian Roulette with their careers. Best case is stupid negligence!

Worst case is deliberate doping, but the system treats them similarly, unless those other steps are shown convincingly. On “deliberate doping”, rugby in SA has a high degree of ’suspicion’ - we know this from the prevalence of school positives. This is likely true globally

And when you have a culture of “enhancement” plus easy access to drugs (in gyms), plus you’re drowning in unregulated supplements with aggressive marketing tactics, you have a formula for positive tests, both accidental & deliberate. Time will tell what this is put down to

Sorry, have to add one point of emphasis. The onus really does lie with the athlete. They must assume a test is coming. So they HAVE to be able to answer “No” to a question “Is there a risk of doping?”. They have support structures to help assure this, so they’re not alone

There are times when I feel sympathy for athletes, because sometimes it feels like they have to be a biochemist to navigate the WADA list! But they DO have 24hr access to doctors & people who can advise, and it’s THEIR job to use them. Inadvertent doping must be a high bar

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