South African Rugby
Springboks duo fail drugs tests
ESPNscrum Staff
November 15, 2010
South Africa's Bjorn Basson looks for an opening, Wales v South Africa, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, November 13, 2010
Winger Bjorn Basson's tour was already over due to an ankle injury © Getty Images

Springboks Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson have been ruled out of the remainder of South Africa's current tour after testing positive for a banned stimulant following their recent victory over Ireland.

The duo have been provisionally suspended from all rugby after failing the random test in the wake of their 23-21 victory at Lansdowne Road on November 6. Basson started the game - the Boks' tour opener - while Ralepelle was an unused substitute.

Six Nations Rugby, who administer the November internationals, confirmed to the South African Rugby Union that the players' samples included methylhexaneamine, a "non-specified stimulant" on the prohibited substances list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Methylhexaneamine, which is thought to stimulate the central nervous system and increase the body's metabolic rate to give it an energy boost, featured on WADA's prohibited list for the first time this year having appeared in a number of nutritional supplements.

However, it is scheduled to be re-classified as a "specified stimulant" from next year with the latter list including drugs more susceptible to inadvertent use and therefore liable to reduced penalties.

Coach Peter de Villiers is now investigating the rest of his squad and what supplements they are taking to ensure any problems are not widespread. "We have done quite a bit already, we are busy sending stuff for testing," he told "Obviously we have to look at what might have caused this and we don't want to put the players at risk. If there is something that we are taking as a squad that might have caused this then we must find that out now.

"When I informed the two players that they had been tested positive they were both extremely shocked and disappointed. The rest of the team were also gutted when they heard. I was informed of this at 2am this morning, and now we must follow the correct processes as laid down by the International Rugby Board."

Basson, a 23-year-old winger, won the third of his four caps in the 23-21 win against Ireland and is the record holder for the most tries in a Currie Cup campaign. His tour was also already over having suffered an ankle injury during his side's 's 29-25 victory over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday

Ralepelle is slightly more experienced than Basson, having picked up his 18th Test cap at the Millennium Stadium, while he was also the first black player to captain the national side when he led them out against a World XV at Welford Road in 2006.

A statement from South Africa Rugby Union confirmed the news and read, "Six Nations Rugby Ltd - who administers the November internationals - informed the South African Rugby Union of the positive Tests on Sunday evening. As a result the pair are provisionally suspended from all rugby and will return to South Africa on Monday. Basson injured an ankle in Saturday's win over Wales and was due to return anyway.

"The players were randomly drawn for testing by anti-doping officials following the Test at the Aviva Stadium. The players have the right to request that their 'B' sample be tested.

"The pair returned an adverse analytical finding for methylhexaneamine, a "non-specified stimulant" on the prohibited substances list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It is scheduled to be re-classified as a "specified stimulant" from 1 January 2011."

Team doctor Craig Roberts, who confirmed that the two players were on medication for flu symptoms, shared De Villiers' desire to get to the root of the problem. "The substance could come from many different sources, like the caffeine substances. What we are doing now is going through the process of looking at all the possibilities and exhausting them one by one. Obviously we need to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible."

South Africa face Scotland this Saturday before taking on England at Twickenham on November 27. Their tour of the northern hemisphere comes to an end with a December 4 clash with the Barbarians. The SARU have confirmed that they are considering calling up replacements for Basson and Ralepelle.

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