Chiliboy Ralepelle: 'This is no longer about me'

Chiliboy Ralepelle (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
  • The former Springbok hooker claims there were strings of procedural discrepancies that might have compromised his sample, which came back positive for an anabolic steroid.
  • He said the doping control officer kept athlete samples in his home and that SA Institute for Drug-free Sport wanted to "save costs" in the process.
  • Key to his defence is an unaccounted 12-hour period where his sample was being transported but the chain of custody couldn’t locate its whereabouts.
  • Saids CEO Khalid Galant said Ralepelle had the chance to present all the above assertions at his initial independent doping tribunal hearing.

Springbok Chiliboy Ralepelle said he wanted to air some of the details of his eight-year doping ban, which he's appealing, to help others who might fall victim to what he suspects were "unjust" practices.

The former Sharks and Bulls hooker alleged widespread discrepancies in his sample collection process on 17 January 2019, the day he was tested; a test that came back positive for banned anabolic steroid Zeranol.

Ralepelle accused the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (Saids) appointed doping control officer (DCO) of flouting a number of World Anti-Doping Agency regulations during the day of testing and subsequent handling of his sample.

These, among others, will serve the basis of his appeal, which has to be filed within 21 days of when he was informed of his guilty verdict and eight-year ban.

"The doping control officer kept samples with him overnight. Nobody knew that," he said.

"He keeps samples in his house overnight. There were tests done on a Wednesday and he kept everything together with him because he had to ship everything together in one batch. How can you keep something like that in your own fridge at home?

"We believe that's against any testing protocol. Saids were being very defensive and they said it's a way of saving money. Are you telling me, you're keeping athletes' samples in your home that you can't ship on the day because you're trying to save money?"

Given his right of response, Saids CEO Khalid Galant said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on Ralepelle's allegations but added that the 33-year-old would have had a chance to present his own findings at the initial independent tribunal hearing.

"It wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on that," Galant said.

"He just has to file the correspondence through the procedure. He can say whatever he wants but it's not appropriate for me to contest it or to give my opinion. You can say the security was breached or anything but you have to prove it and to the satisfaction of the appeals panel.

"Obviously, we will have to defend it but it will have to be in the space of the appeal hearing. Remember, he had the opportunity in the first hearing. In the anti-doping framework, the decision is made on the balance of probabilities."

Ralepelle elaborated on some of details of his testing day, during which he said there were red flags he didn't raise because he was unaware that they weren't part of procedure.

He said he submitted a partial sample (less than the prescribed 90ml required) but was allowed to resubmit his urine test in the same carrier as the partial sample, some 30 minutes after and after he drank from a team water container.

"When I passed my first urine sample, after my boxing session in the morning, I was only able to pass 30ml of urine. That's considered a partial sample and you’ve got to put that into a sealing vessel," he said.

"You've got to name, record and seal the partial sample. The DCO then said to me I could go shower and take the partial sample with me (unsealed) and do my recovery and when I have urine, I can pass it, on top of the initial 30ml.

"I took that same urine collecting vessel to the bathrooms, where I first showered, did recovery and after that I re-passed the sample back into the same container that had the partial sample. He was also supposed to give me fluid but he didn't, so I drank from one of the team bottles that were available.

"He's supposed to control whatever you take in that environment. But (at the hearing) the DCO lied and said I didn’t pass the partial sample.

"I had never passed a partial sample before, so I was thinking it’s the norm. He was supposed to explain the procedure to me and he didn't."

Furthermore, Ralepelle said the DCO kept urine samples in his personal home refrigerator and that there was a period of 12 hours that were unaccounted for in the transportation process of his sample.

"During the chain of custody, the transportation to the lab, each sample needs to be signed off whenever it moves from person to person," he said.

"Even a letter, if dispatched properly, will have a line of command. But in this case, there was a period of 12 hours that we could not trace where the sample was.

"You can’t tell me it was on a flight or something, because there is no 12-hour flight to Bloem. We believe there are huge discrepancies in the transportation of the samples."

Ralepelle’s lawyer, Hendrik Hugo, an associate attorney at ENS Africa, said: "At the collection stage, the testing stage and application of the applicable laws... and at the subsequent sanction stage, we are of the view that there are grounds for appeal.

"All those grounds, on an individual basis, will have to be considered by an appeal tribunal."

In 2013, Comrades marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo was cleared of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation a year after testing positive for a banned substance after it was found that procedural flaws occurred in the testing procedure after he crossed the finish line.

This is Ralepelle's third doping case, after testing positive in 2010 and 2014.

READ | Chiliboy Ralepelle: This is not how I thought my career would end

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