Drugs rife in youth rugby

18 February 2016 - 02:39 By Claire Keeton

Doping in South African sport is most common among rugby players under 21.This is according to recent surveys by the SA Institute for Drug-free Sport."The major shocker is that one pupil tested positive for seven anabolic steroids, another for three, one for two, one for a steroid and stimulant, and one for a steroid and cannabis," the institute's research manager, Amanda Claassen-Smithers, said yesterday.The tests were of members of sporting federations and not scholars, she said at Fitcon 2016, a fitness convention organised by the Sport Science Institute of SA.From April 2012 to March 2013 nine of 43 athletes who tested positive for doping were under 21, and eight of them played rugby.The following year 44 athletes tested positive, including nine youths, seven of whom played rugby. Of the 32 athletes who tested positive from 2014 to last year, six were youths and all played rugby."Craven Week and under-19 tournaments contributed 40% of all the positives from rugby, and 73% of all the offences were from rugby," said Claassen-Smithers.Anabolic steroids are the biggest problem, with banned substances such as cannabis, and the dangerous methylhex, being identified in doping tests.Five of eight young rugby players had traces of methylhex, a substance that can be contained in freely available supplements but that is not listed on the label."A stimulant, methylhex has serious side effects. In 2012 an Olympic runner died after taking a product containing methylhex."It has been linked to a number of deaths reported among athletes," Claassen-Smithers said.

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