South African schoolboy rugby’s annual Craven Week tournament, a premier high school rugby festival for senior students, has been embroiled in a doping scandal after widespread drug test failures.
A parent of one player admitted to injecting her son with steroids in an affidavit.
Six players tested positive for steroids at the tournament, with all players failing the test receiving bans from three to four years. Some of the banned players had professional contracts secured, which have been torn up.
The Times reports that there is some evidence players as young as 14 are taking banned stimulants in order to bulk up in hopes of making it as a professional.
There were three positive tests in 2014, five in 2015, four in 2016 and three in 2017. Khalid Galant, the chief executive of South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, said that a ‘win at all costs’ attitude had become ‘toxic’ with the pressure to win Craven week.
“Unfortunately South Africa rugby does have a bit of reputation and it probably starts from school age. We thought we would see a plateau or a decrease in positive tests so it is a great concern, as is the fact that each one of the boys tested positive for a cocktail of steroids.
“The deterrent effect of testing seems to have had no effect, and it is also concerning that it appears in some cases the steroids were being injected through a needle.
“Parents and coaches also appear to be complicit. In one case a boy’s mother wrote an affidavit saying she injected the kid with ampoules as she though it was vitamin B.”
The rising trend has Galant calling on schools and rugby’s governing bodies to take more responsibility.
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