School Boy Steroid Doper Faces Ban
SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has announced that doping control tests have revealed that a 17 year old school boy has tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid, nandrolone, at the 2012 Craven Week schools rugby tournament and could face a ban of up to two years from sport.

This is according to Dr Shuaib Manjra, Chairman of Institute for Drug-Free Sport, who says that the boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, will face an independent tribunal in two months time. The boy was tested along with about 51% of participants at the Craven Week schools rugby tournament in July.

Manjra says that the standard sentence is a minimum ban of two years and not less than a year, where there are mitigating circumstances. “It will be up to the tribunal to rule on the appropriate sanction,” he says.

It is bad news for the boy that tested positive, who, if he receives a ban could dent his dream of a career in rugby and his chances of being recruited by the Provincial Unions who talent spot during school tournaments.

“Even though doping control tests show that the majority of boys competed clean in this year’s tournament, this does not mean that they are not doping,” stresses Manjra. “Some of them may have stopped taking steroids weeks before the competition, in order to pass the drug tests during the tournament.”

Manjra says that the issue of steroid abuse in schools is known to be widespread and this is why the Institute has been very aggressive with its education campaigns throughout the year and in the week leading up to Craven Week.

“Our education team has had many anti-doping education sessions with schools and the respective provincial schools rugby teams,” he adds. “The information has been unequivocal that school rugby players can expect to be tested. We also emphasized the risk of taking sports supplements, many of which contain banned substances like anabolic steroids, pro hormones and stimulants, which are disguised under labeled ingredients such as ‘testosterone booster’ or ‘growth-hormone accelerator’, which are used on the packaging of products.”

Manjra says that steroids are dangerous, as they can cause abnormal organ growth and function; change the endocrine system and mess up a perfectly normal hormone profile of a growing adolescent.

On a positive note, he says that media coverage on the SAIDS ‘I Play Fair. Say No! to doping’ educational campaign, aimed at tackling doping in sport; spreading the message of ethics, fair-play and anti-doping in sport, has played a large role in generating more awareness around doping in schools and this may have also served as a deterrent.

He points out that ‘in competition’ is only one of the strategies used as part of SAIDS doping control strategy.

“This type of testing has its limits since athletes can ensure that they are ‘clean’ in the lead up to competitions,” he explains. “They can still engage in systematic doping in the off-season while reaping the benefits of this dangerous life-style choice in the competition season.”

While there are constraints in terms of the Schools Act pertaining to out-of-competition, no-notice testing, Manjra says that SAIDS, together with headmasters and school governing bodies have developed a creative strategy that stays true to the Schools Act, while still tackling the disturbing problem of doping among learners. A programme that combines education and testing is to be rolled out in subscribing schools in the near future.

ENDS. Press Release issued on 05 September 2012 by SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport