Former Springboks lock Marco Wentzel admits it’s hard to deny there is a doping culture in South African rugby.
The issue hit the headlines in the immediate aftermath to the Springboks’ stunning Rugby World Cup win in Tokyo when former Irish international Neil Francis said that victory might need an asterisk next to it because of doping abuse in the sport there.
Wentzel, who played for the Boks in 2002 and has vast experience in Super Rugby and the English Premiership, told Sport24 it was hard to mount an argument against these sort of accusations, with doping hitting leading players and the highly competitive South African schoolboy scene.
“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,” Wentzel, 40, told Sport24.
* Who got the best of SBW?
* Rennie demands results
* Raelene Castle under fire
* England prop’s bizarre interview
“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.”
Grobler played with Western Province and the Stormers between 2012 and 2014, before missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to a positive drugs test.
Ralepelle tested positive for anabolic steroid drostanolone in 2014 and was banned for two years. Dyantyi tested positive to banned substances in July. He was World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2018.
Francis, a former Irish lock, didn’t hold back when he targeted the South African scene after their third World Cup triumph, a victory that followed wins in 1995 and 2007.
“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,” Francis wrote in the Irish Independent.
“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?”
Wentzel was particularly alarmed at the alleged doping culture in South African school rugby.
Drug testing at last year’s annual Craven Week tournament, South African’s premier secondary school festival for 16-18-year-olds, recorded six positive findings for steroids.
Parents were found to be injecting steroids into their children.
“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,” Wentzel told Sport24.
“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’.”
SA Rugby President Mark Alexander, joined the debate on Monday (NZT), warning pundits commenting on the use of steroids to be careful with their words regarding the world champion Springboks.
“You know, those who said that stuff about our so-called drug culture can be charged with defamation,’ Alexander said in an interview with Rapport that was reported elsewhere in the South African media.
“And what if we start talking about their drug culture?”
But Alexander conceded there was an issue at the lower levels that his organisation was looking to combat.
“There is a problem in our schools, but all of us are working hard to try to solve it.”
Credit: Source link