South African Rugby
Basson pleads innocence
ESPNscrum Staff
November 18, 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 winger Bjorn Basson insists has pleaded his innocence after failing a drugs test in the wake of his side's recent victory over Ireland.

Basson and team-mate Chiliboy Ralepelle both tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine following South Africa's 23-21 win at Lansdowne Road on November 6. The drug is commonly found in nasal decongestant and nutritional supplements and is thought to stimulate the central nervous system and increase the body's metabolic rate to give it an energy boost.

Both players were subsequently sent home from the Springboks' tour of Europe and provisionally suspended from all rugby but Basson is confident of clearing his name.

"I don't know how this drug got into my system. I have no idea at all. I was very shocked when I first heard. I couldn't believe it was happening to me," the 23-year-old Basson told The Times newspaper in South Africa. Ralepelle also sent the newspaper a text message that said, "No worries God is in control."

In related news, South African Rugby Players Association CEO Piet Heymans has confirmed to the Business Day newspaper that the players have given the go-ahead for their 'B' samples to be tested. "I have spoken to the players and their legal team and there was consensus that their B samples should be tested, so we have arranged for that to be done," said Heymans. "We are not certain how long it will take, but we suspect it would happen in the next three to four days. But a formal investigation is under way."

The duo have also found support from well-known sports scientist Tim Noakes who believes the matter has been blown out of proportion and the players could not have gained any advantage from the use of methylhexaneamine. "This is not a doping incident. It's an incident of inadvertent use through medication of a supplement. To call these guys dopers would be unfair. You can't label someone a crook if he's not one," Noakes told Sport 24. "Doping agencies have to make a fuss every so often. In this case it's doing harm."

Meanwhile, the Springboks management are determined to focus on the challenge of Scotland at Murrayfield this weekend. "The process is still continuing and we have sent some of our stuff to be tested. We don't want another incident. We dealt with the issue fully on Monday, have moved on and are now focusing on Saturday," said coach Peter de Villiers. "We are professional and know how to handle tough situations. The team is looking forward to playing at Murrayfield."

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