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Three upcoming South African players banned for doping

By Kim Ekin
Rugby fans watching rugby during day 2 of the 2017 U/18 Coca-Cola Craven Week at St Stithians College on July 18, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Getty Images/Gallo Images)

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sports has announced the bans of three young rugby players after they tested positive for banned substances during last year’s SA Schools Craven week rugby tournament.

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Two of the players have been named, a former Grey College student Khoitsimodimo ‘Kamo’ Mathibedi whilst the other was an SA Schools selection last year, Sifiso Magwaza out of Hoerskool Monument in Krugersdor.

The third player’s name has been redacted as they are a minor.

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Magwaza is a prop who played for the Lions in addition to making SA Schools, although he did not feature in fixtures against England or France, while Mathibedi is a hooker for Free State.

Each of the players have been handed three-year bans with eligibility to begin playing rugby again starting in August 2025.

The Craven week tournament for under-18 representative provincial rep teams brings the best of South Africa’s talent together, although it has been dragged into controversy over doping scandals despite its popularity.

In 2018 six young players were caught using banned substances in anti-doping tests, which continued an alarming trend after three positive tests in 2014, five in 2015, four in 2016 and three in 2017.

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At the time the chief executive of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport, Khalid Galant, told The Times the ‘win at all costs’ attitude towards Craven week had turned ‘toxic’.

The 2018 crop of positive tests had revealed a ‘cocktail of steroids’ according to Galant but they were ‘unsophisticated’ dopers without the means to evade detection.

In 2020 critics called into question a ‘steriod culture’ in South Africa which former Springboks lock Marco Wentzel sided with.

Wentzel, who played for South Africa in 2002, told Sport24 it was difficult to argue against the claims with the South African rugby schoolboy scene presenting an alarming doping problem.

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“The unfortunate fact is that if we look at the last few years in terms of the amount of rugby players caught doping, critics have a point,” Wentzel told Sport24.

“From what one hears the steroid use at schoolboy level is quite rife but is it because we are so competitive and there are so many players? It might spring from that because rugby is such a big cultural phenomenon.”

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