Ex-Bok on doping in SA accusations: Critics have a point

Marco Wentzel (Gallo Images)
Marco Wentzel (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok lock Marco Wentzel has shared his view on recent comments suggesting there is a doping culture in South African rugby.

READ | Marco Wentzel's full Q&A interview with Sport24

"The unfortunate fact is that if we look at the last few years in terms of the amount of rugby players caught doping, critics have a point. In recent times we have had the cases of Gerbrandt Grobler, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Aphiwe Dyantyi and way back we had the likes of Johan Ackermann. It's an issue and I don't think those who raise the issue are factually incorrect," Wentzel said in an exclusive interview with Sport24.

Wentzel was commenting after former Ireland lock Neil Francis made headlines earlier this month when he said an asterisk should be put next to the Springboks' Rugby World Cup triumph because of drug abuse.

Francis, who played 36 Tests for Ireland between 1987 to 1996, told the Irish Independent that he was "fairly certain" of a "steroid culture" in South Africa after Dyantyi tested positive for "multiple" banned substances earlier this year.

Francis wrote: "How certain are we when we point a finger to suggest there is a steroid culture in a country that has just won the World Cup? Fairly certain.

"Is Dyantyi, a poster boy for the World Cup and winner of World Rugby’s young player of the year (in 2018), the only one? Or the only one to be caught?

"The player in my view will go down but the system stays in place. What were we saying about latitude and dispensation? Do we need to put an asterisk beside the winners of the 2019 World Cup?"

ALSO READ: Springbok doping accusation | Irish legend has his say

Wentzel, who played two Tests for the Boks in 2002, said rumours of steroid use at schools level was especially alarming.

"From what one hears the steroid use at schoolboy level is quite rife but is it because we are so competitive and there are so many players? It might spring from that because rugby is such a big cultural phenomenon. It is up to the coaches and parents to police the use of steroids but kids are kids.

"In today's age you can't stop them and if they want something they'll get it. The standard of our schoolboy rugby is unbelievable, it's highly competitive and players are massive. I agree it should be more about the enjoyment factor than results at schoolboy level but how do you reverse the trend at this point? It's easier said than done - you can't reverse what is happening now and say ahead of the Paarl Boys' High v Paarl Gimnasium derby, 'Boys, take it easy.'"

ALSO READ | SAIDS report confirms SIX anabolic steroids tests at Craven Week

- Compiled by Sport24 staff
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