DURBAN – Sharks and former Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle earlier this week denied had he tested positive for a banned substance, but on Friday, it was revealed by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) officials that it is likely the case.
It is the second time that Ralepelle has failed a test for the anabolic steroid drostanolone, which is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances.
In 2015, in France, he was banned from sport for two years after failing an out-of-competition doping test taken the year before, when he was recovering from an operation on a knee injury he had sustained while playing for Toulouse against Biarritz.
Speculation has grown over the last few weeks that something has been amiss with the 32-year-old, because of his complete absence from the Shark Tank.
He has been nursing a knee injury, but has nevertheless been nowhere to be seen.
On January 17, Saids officials attended a Sharks training session and the players were all tested.
When it was rumoured that Ralepelle’s absence lately was due to a failed test, Sharks chief executive Gary Teichmann told Independent Media that the Sharks could not comment on the matter.
The South African Rugby Union’s general manager: communications Andy Colquhoun said the same, and it is understandable, because the judicial process has yet to take place.
Neither the Sharks nor Saru can comment on a case that is yet to return a guilty verdict, even though it is known that Ralepelle is the Sharks player that was caught out by the random visit to training by Saids.
When Ralepelle was contacted directly by Independent Media on Monday, he denied that he had failed a doping test, and said that his absence from the Shark Tank was due to an infection incurred after a scope done on his knee.
The speculation around Ralepelle thickened last week when former Sharks hooker Craig Burden was spotted watching a Sharks training session, and then later that day underwent a medical with a view to signing for the Sharks.
Burden, now 33, left the Sharks in 2013 for a career in France, which saw him play for Toulon, Montpellier and Stade Francais, before recently returning to Durban for his wedding and retirement from rugby.
The @CellC Sharks Head Coach Robert du Preez has hinted at making rotational changes during the season and after three Vodacom @SuperRugby matches, has re-arranged his side to take on the Vodacom @BlueBullsRugby.
It is understood that the Sharks’ contingency plan for the expected two-year ban for Ralepelle has been to sign Burden until the end of next year’s Super Rugby competition.
In 2010, Ralepelle and fellow Springbok Bjorn Basson also tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine while on tour in Edinburgh, but were found to not be at fault, as the substance was apparently contained in Springbok-approved supplements.