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It’s something of an elephant in the room – the use of drugs in rugby. Players, particularly schoolboys, get bigger and bigger and we’re told it’s due to healthier eating and better fitness training. Anything but the dreaded “vitamin S” – steroids. But steroids are a reality and despite regular random drugs tests, drugs cheats are getting away with it. Well, not all of them. Sharks hooker Monde Hadebe is the latest player to face four years in the wilderness, and, as Sport24’s Rob Houwing writes, more players could be joining him. – David O’Sullivan
By Rob Houwing
Cape Town– The Sharks’ Super Rugby-capped hooker Monde Hadebe has been banned from rugby for four years for a steroid-related doping offence, Sport24 established on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Hadebe has not featured for the franchise this year; he went to the Kings in pre-season for a trial period but returned to Durban apparently having picked up an injury.
He tested positive for two forbidden forms of steroid, Khalid Galant, chief executive officer for the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport, confirmed.
In further bombshell developments that will bring the credibility of South African rugby into sharp focus, several players from slightly lower levels of competition domestically have fallen foul of doping charges.
These are known to include Border Under-21 lock Chase Benito (four years), Griquas Under-21 loose forward Nico Graaff (two years) and Border’s Currie Cup-level loose forward Lukhanyo Nomzanga.
Former EP Kings flank Siyanda Mangaliso, first banned for doping in 2013, has been collared again, whilst it has also been established that a Boland Under-19 player has been handed a three-year ban although an appeal hearing is imminent in his case.
Durban-born and educated at Westville Boys’ High School, Hadebe made three appearances for the Sharks in Super Rugby 2015 – against the Force, Lions and Bulls.
#Doping Sharks hooker Monde Hadebe is 1 of 18 players found guilty of doping in according to SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant.
— EWN Sport (@EWNsport) July 20, 2016
Hadebe, whose vital statistics are given as 1.77m and 100kg, also represented SA Under-20 in 2010.
It is ironic that news of Hadebe’s ban comes in the same season during which once-disgraced Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle – currently on tour with the Sharks as they prepare to meet the Hurricanes in a Wellington quarter-final on Saturday – has made a comeback to rugby for the franchise.
Ralepelle, now 29, was suspended for two years after a positive test for a metabolite of an anabolic steroid, drostanolone, while on the books of Toulouse in France.
But he was cleared to play again by World Rugby in April, a few weeks after the start of the current Super Rugby season.
Franco Marais has been the first-choice for the Sharks for most of the campaign thus far, and is also in New Zealand for the knockout clash, although Ralepelle has looked lively at times in appearances as a substitute. – Sport24
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