Nature of Craven Week drugs ‘a concern’
● The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) is concerned about the nature of the drugs used by the six schoolboys who tested positive at Craven Week.
Saids CE Khalid Galant said the drugs used by the rugby players and how they were taken have raised serious questions about the safety checks and how the drugs were acquired.
Saids this week released its annual report and said 122 players were tested before and during the under-18 provincial schools rugby tournament that took place from July 9 to 14 at Paarl Boys High in the Western Cape.
“The concern for us is not just the six positive tests, but the qualitative nature of the six positives.
“Each one of them tested positive for a cocktail of steroids and that’s the major concern. These aren’t just steroids you get through a contaminated sports supplement. They could be through ampoules or pills. The other concern is that they could be injected. Who’s injecting these kids and how are the needles disposed of because that becomes a public health risk with regard to the exposing of needles on school premises,” Galant said.
“In search and seizures, the people that have been arrested are people with criminal records or are from the criminal underworld. Are those people seriously interacting with school kids? Those are the serious concerns we have. Are those people coming onto school premises? Some of the kids we’ve interviewed confessed they buy some of their steroids from fellow learners.”
With school rugby falling outside the South African Schools Act ambit from a drug-testing perspective, Galant said there were not strong deterrents but plenty of education on drug-testing at the various provincial rugby weeks.
The people that have been arrested are people with criminal records Khalid Galant
CE of the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport
“While there’s scope for drug-testing in the Schools Act, it’s different to sports drugtesting because it has to be initiated by the headmaster, and the headmaster can only initiate it based on suspicion. Those laws are also written to protect the learners, but the issue is not the policing or education with regard to drugs because they know the protocols and there’s a reasonable chance of being tested at provincial weeks,” Galant said.
“The deterrent effect doesn’t work that well and I maintain that it’s more of a values thing because when kids are caught, parents and coaches are implicated. There’s a combination of factors and you can’t just drill it down to risky behaviour or only the parents are implicated. Schools rugby has become so commercialised and the stakes are high, but the problem can’t be attributed to one single factor.”
Galant said the SA Schools Rugby Association, chaired by Glenwood Preparatory School headmaster Noel Ingle, has been helpful in opening up school derby days and festivals for drug-testing.
Ingle said the results were devastating and even though they understand the widespread nature of doping, getting to grips with it was difficult.
“Schoolboys aren’t quite aware that they’re playing with their health and if there’s collusion with parents, then it’s even more devastating. We have educational programmes and we think one of the measures will have to be increased testing. There’s already talks between SA Rugby and Sasra in terms of looking at methods for testing. This will form part of our annual general meeting discussions in Cape Town,” Ingle said.
“I don’t want to speak from an emotive point without empirical evidence because that’s what we need to combat this matter. We have meetings every year and at every tournament about the dangers of doping, but clearly there are some other kids who don't understand, believe or who are too naïve. Maybe it’s the pressures that are mounted on them to perform and I don’t want to be naïve and think that’s not part of the problem.”