Four players tested at the 2011 Craven Week in Kimberley last month have been found to have taken banned potions and are due to face a hearing which will decide whether there will be suspensions from playing rugby.
There are 18 South African teams at Craven Week, each of 22 players. Of the 396 players at the week only 47 were tested and of those 47 four were tested positive for the use of banned steroids, this despite speculation earlier in the year, warnings and SARU's statement that there would be testing at Craven Week. The testing was done by the Institute for Drug-Free Sport.
The CEO of the Institute said that he was not surprised by the result as he was aware that there was a problem in the abuse of performance enhancing drugs by schoolboys saying that the abuse was fuelled by the 'win-at-all-costs mentality, putting ethics and fair play aside'.
The Institute was established in 1997 "to promote the participation in sport free from the use of prohibited substances or methods intended to artificially enhance performance, thereby rendering impermissible doping practices which are contrary to the principles of fair play and medical ethics, in the interest of the health and well-being of sportspersons; and to provide for matters connected therewith." It is the body that decides on and carries out testing for banned substances. It does so with the co-operation of the sporting bodies. SARU was co-operative in the case of Craven Week which is its tournament and where it has authority.
The use of anabolic steroids, without prescription is forbidden by law in South Africa. It is forbidden because of its effects and side-effects. and is allowed on prescription in certain individual cases to assist against the likes of AIDS, cancer, transplants and diabetes.
If a healthy person takes anabolic steroids he does so at the expense of all his other organs, all of which will suffer. Every system in the body will suffer, and this can have serious, even life-threatening implications, affecting the brain, the heart, the kidneys, the liver, the blood and the testes and can be a cause in many health problems from acne to cancer, from balding to strokes, from increased cholesterol to violent aggression, from weight gain to mood swings, from sterility to a shortened life span.
Acquiring such drugs is expensive and there must be some form of adult collusion - or worse - for a schoolboy to be able to acquire banned substances.
Professor Tim Noakes has warned that if often starts with 'supplements' intended to build muscle. These are often new products whose long-term effects are unknown, but Noakes warns that such supplements can be a stepping stone to steroids if the supplements do not have the desired effect. This in turn can lead to the use of more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and tik.
Noakes believes that the best way to stop the use of banned substances is to stop there supply.
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