SOUTH AFRICA’S tour of Britain has been plunged into crisis after coach Peter de Villiers admitted he fears his whole squad may have taken a banned substance.
Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and winger Bjorn Basson were yesterday provisionally suspended from all rugby after testing positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine.
Both were due to fly home last night and are set to miss Saturday’s clash with Scotland and a Twickenham showdown with England the following weekend.
De Villiers said he did not know how the pair – tested at random – had taken the substance but revealed his fear that it may have been in a supplement or drink used by all of his players.
“We don’t want to put the players at risk,” he said. “If there is something that we are taking as a squad that might have caused this then we must find that out now.”
Energy drinks used by the Springboks have been sent for testing and South Africa team doctor Craig Roberts said Ralepelle and Basson could have unwittingly taken the substance in flu medication.
De Villiers added: “When I informed the two players that they had been tested positive they were both extremely shocked and disappointed. The rest of the team were also gutted when they heard. I was informed of this at 2am this morning, and now we must follow the correct processes as laid down by the International Rugby Board.”
Medic Roberts said: “The substance could come from many different sources, like the caffeine substances. What we are doing now is going through the process of looking at all the possibilities and exhausting them one by one.”
Springboks chiefs are considering calling up replacements for Ralepelle, the first black player to captain South Africa, and Basson, who both tested positive after a 23-21 win over Ireland earlier this month. Basson, who started that game, suffered an ankle injury against Wales on Saturday and was due to fly home anyway.
Ralepelle is the more experienced of the two players, with 18 caps, and came off the bench in the weekend win over Wales. Basson, a starter at the Millennium Stadium, has four caps.
FACTFILE | METHYLHEXANEAMINE
METHYLHEXANEAMINE is a stimulant that appears on the list of banned substances issued by the World Anti Doping Authority. It is set to be reclassified as a “specified stimulant” from the start of next year, meaning it will be treated more leniently. Athletes with a therapeutic use exception certificate will be granted immunity from punishment. It is the same substance that caused Nigerian runners Damola Osayomi and Samuel Okon to fail doping tests at the Commonwealth Games last month. Methylhexaneamine appears in some nutritional supplements and increases the body’s metabolic rate to give it an energy boost.