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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Kwa Zulu Natal Look First At Schools To Stop Doping Says Top Sports Scientist
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 22:17

Look First At Schools To Stop Doping Says Top Sports Scientist

To get to the heart of doping in sports the anti-drugs authorities should move their attention to school sports if they ever hope to rid professional sports from illegal use of drugs. This was the opinion of sports scientist Dr. Ross Tucker who was responding to two Springbok rugby players who had recently tested positive for banned stimulants.

As reported on Times Live, Dr. Ross Tucker said that, "doping at schoolboy level is a very serious problem and more should be done to prevent it from happening."

Earlier this year Professor Tim Noakes had mentioned that the use of steroids and other illegal substances were rife in the high schools of South Africa and has estimated that doping prevalence in schools was 10% to -20% but that estimate, in the absence of a testing programme has to be based on anecdotal evidence. The SA Rugby Union (SARU) has recently been forced to suspended three players who had tested positive for illegal substances, and Tucker fears that these suspensions may only be the tip of the iceberg.

"The reason why doping by the youth is so alarming is because less testing is conducted at their level. Players know that an impressive performance when they are 16 or 17 years old could determine their lives, and as is the case in all sporting codes, doping increases as soon as there is money involved."

Griquas under-19 fullback Abrie Marais and Eastern Province's under-19 flyhalf Jonathan Mudrovcic recently received two year bans for the use of norandrosterone, a steroid. Free State Cheetahs under-19 flyhalf Johan Goosen - who was named as Craven Week player-of-the-year - received a three-month ban after he tested positive for the same substance that was found in the blood of Springboks Chiliboy Ralpelle and Bjorn Basson.

The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) have since vowed to increase testing. "SAIDS has increased the testing of junior players and will continue to do so until we achieve the required result of no adverse analytical findings," SARU medical manager Clint Readhead said in a statement.

Tucker feels that the onus also lies with parents and teachers - who in some instances administer the illegal substances themselves - to get involved in the purification process. "Awareness with regards to the consequences also needs to be explained and this is where coaches and parents play a huge role. The sad truth is that coaches and parents often look the other way to ensure that their child or team benefits," added Tucker.

Tucker called for a revised strategy as far as contracting young players are concerned. It is believed that some rugby unions identify their future players while they are still in primary school which adds further pressure on players to deliver.

"Sport is a lucrative career option for many youngsters and when considering the fame and money involved it comes as no surprise that the youth are getting involved in stimulant abuse. With a low likelihood of being caught abusing substances while at school, we should be very concerned," Dr.Tucker said.

It would be very unfortunate if young lives are lost and potential sporting careers ended in the attempts to improve performance. It would be important for schools, coaches and parents to be part of the attempt to provide counselling to these young players and to advise against the use of performance enhancing drugs.