Johannesburg - South Africa winger and 2018 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Aphiwe Dyantyi has been slapped with a four-year ban for taking three prohibited substances.
The ban was confirmed by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport this week, which said Dyantyi failed to prove that he took multiple performance-enhancing drugs in error as he purported.
“The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) confirms and accepts the decision rendered by the Independent Doping Hearing Panel on the Aphiwe Dyantyi doping matter. SAIDS received the decision on 10th December 2020.
“The three-person Panel accepted the guilty plea of the athlete to the doping charge. They found that the athlete had failed to satisfy the burden of proof to establish that his positive dope test was not intentional. The Panel relied on the framework for sanctions in the World Anti-Doping Code that outlined a sanction of four years for the doping offense in this matter.
“Mr Dyantyi is effectively banned from participating in sport from the date of 13th August 2019 when he was provisionally suspended to 12th August 2023. The athlete’s rights are reserved to seek relief through lodging an appeal should he believe that he has substantive grounds for an appeal,” said SAIDS.
The 26-year-old Dyantyi tested positive for metandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033 while in camp with the Springboks last July and pleaded guilty to a doping charge - but insisted he unknowingly ingested the substances while drinking from a friend's water bottle at a gym.
SAIDS urged sports persons to exercise caution when taking supplements.
“SAIDS would like to remind athletes to exercise caution when using sports supplements and to evaluate the risk of these supplements, especially the products that purport to guarantee quick muscle gains and strength without the commensurate strength and conditioning routine.”
Dyantyi’s agent Gert van der Merwe said they were shocked by the outcome.
“The decision makes no sense. I still have to read the full decision. My legal team and I plan on analysing the decision next week and we will decide whether to appeal. I can’t give any details, since the case has not yet been finalised. If it were up to me, we would definitely appeal. The problem is that there are costs associated with it.
“Aphiwe has not received a salary for the last 18 months and we’re trying to see what we can do. I believe the decision is wrong. Aphiwe can’t believe it. We were starting to get ready to play again,” said van der Merwe.
Dyantyi made his international debut against England in 2018 and has played 13 tests for the Springboks, scoring six tries, leading to him being named World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2018.
Had he been cleared, Dyantyi would have been up for selection for the Springboks squad to face the British and Irish Lions next year.
Instead, his ban is another black eye for rugby after news broke this week that a group of former players was planning a legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union for brain injuries they say are linked to the concussions suffered during their careers.
In 1997 former Springbok lock Johan Ackermann was banned for two years after traces of nandrolone were found in his system.
Former Western Province and Springbok tight head prop Cobas Visagie, in October 2000, failed a dope test after a Currie Cup match. He claimed the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone he tested positive for came from a supplement given to him by the then South African Rugby Football Union.
In 2010 South African rugby was rocked by three U19 players who failed drug tests. One of them was Free State Cheetahs flyhalf Johann Goosen, who was named 2010 Craven Week Player of the Year. He received a three-month ban after he tested positive for methylhexaneamine.
Former Springbok hooker Chilliboy Ralepelle also tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone during an out-of-competition test in 2014. Ralepelle was banned for two years and had his contract with French club Toulouse cancelled.
He returned to action for the Sharks in 2016, but was again in hot water before the start of their 2019 Super Rugby campaign when evidence of zeranol, a growth aid for livestock, was found in his blood following a random test.
In 2018 former Springbok and Cheetahs flank Ashley Johnson was banned for six months after failing a drug test while playing for Wasps in England.