JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 19, Josta Dladla during the Telkom Knockout match between Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs at Bidvest Stadium on October 19, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Josta Dladla faces a bleak future after the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) confirmed the Kaizer Chiefs player had returned a positive test for a banned stimulant late last year.

According to SAIDS’s chief executive Khalid Galant, Dladla tested positive for methylexaneamine, a prohibited stimulant.

“He was tested after the match between Chiefs and Orlando Pirates on October 26 (last year). We’ve gone through all processes to ensure the athlete (Dladla) was not compromised at all. We confirm that indeed he returned a positive test.”

In that Absa Premiership Soweto Derby, which ended 1-1, Dladla came on as a last-minute substitute for George Lebese. He featured in Chiefs’ subsequent games and was notably sent off against Polokwane City on November 27, forcing him to miss two games. But the 34-year-old could face a lengthy ban if he cannot prove that he took the stimulant unknowingly, according to Galant, whose organisation has forwarded their findings to the SA Football Association with an instruction to provisionally suspend Dladla from competing.

“We have informed Safa and the athlete about the outcome of the drugs test. Safa have to withdraw him from competition until an independent tribunal has heard his case. We usually give a time-frame of between four and six weeks for the tribunal to finalise a matter like this. It is up to the athlete whether he wants his B-sample to be tested as well.”

On the SAIDS website, bans for using methylexaneamine – the same stimulant found in 2012 Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo, who was later cleared last year – range from a seven-week suspension to 24 months.

“Every case has its own merits,” Galant said. “The athlete has to prove that he didn’t deliberately take drugs. You have to convince the tribunal that you researched a product and ascertained that it doesn’t contain a banned substance before taking it. The tribunal can then look at that as a mitigating factor. Where the athlete pleads guilty, he usually gets a longer ban because he accepts he knowingly used drugs.”

Galant described methylexaneamine as a “powerful” drug which enhances performance. “It’s a strong stimulant that no athlete should touch. We constantly warn athletes about supplements. This one greatly enhances performance, and that’s why it’s prohibited.”

He added that this was the first time he had heard of such a case in domestic football. “We certainly won’t want it to be a trend and hope that this case will make other footballers aware about what they put in to their systems.”

The case could not have come at a worse time for Dladla, whose contract with Amakhosi expires at the end of the season. He turns 35 in July and should he not prove his innocence, a lengthy ban could mean an inglorious end to an otherwise scandal-free career, which has spanned over 13 seasons.

Dladla’s advisors would do well to look at long distance runner Mamabolo’s case, where a guilty verdict for using methylexaneamine was overturned and he was cleared due to what his lawyers said was a “system failure in the Comrades doping process”.

In a statement, Chiefs confirmed they were aware of the Dladla case. “(Last Friday) the club called an urgent meeting with Josta Dladla, his agent and the team representatives including the team doctor and football manager Bobby Motaung. At the meeting the player and his agent were duly informed about the matter. The club is waiting for a response from the player and his agent. As soon as we receive their response we will issue out a further statement.” - The Star