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Doping in South African rugby? Brian O'Driscoll isn't jumping on the Neil Francis bandwagon

By Liam Heagney
The Springbok team arrive home in SA

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Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll doesn’t go along with the accusation of fellow countryman Neil Francis that an asterisk should be placed beside the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup win due to the alleged proliferation of steroid use in South African rugby.


Outspoken lock Francis recently claimed that questions were yet to be answered around reports of anabolic steroid use that have dogged the Rainbow Nation for years.

However, O’Driscoll believes hard evidence is the only thing that an opinion can be based on, not hearsay. “I don’t think you can point fingers at anyone until individuals have tested positive,” the BT Sport pundit told RugbyPass.

“It doesn’t matter how big players are or how fit they are or what sort of condition they are in, if they did lots of testing the only way of accusing someone is if they fail the test.

“The two things that I do know about doping in South Africa is (Aphiwe) Dyantyi, the breakthrough player of the year. He tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs three months ago.

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“That is a player within the Springboks squad, so of course that is going to heighten anticipation or is going to provoke thought that it might be infiltrated with other people. 

“The second thing is the Craven week where five or six players tested positive at an underage tournament which seemed very high compared to rugby around the world. Those two things have heightened the conversation around it.”

As Ireland’s most capped player, O’Driscoll well knows what the process involved in drug testing. However, even after his stellar career he can’t say if a player in South Africa would be tested as much as a player who earns his living in Europe.   


“I’d be guessing. One season you might get tested five, six times, another season you might get tested once,” he said.

“It would be a guess as to what is going on and I don’t think that is the right thing to do. You would be hopeful that it is the same rules apply to everyone so yeah, I think that is the hope for the game the world over.”

WATCH: RugbyPass Rugby Explorer takes a trek through the South Africa rugby communities in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth

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