Springboks duo exonerated

South Africa internationals Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson have been cleared to play on after a judicial hearing found they were not to blame for returning positive drug tests.

Ralepelle and Basson were charged and provisionally suspended after they tested positive for the banned stimulant Methylhexamine (MHA) following South Africa's Test against Ireland on November 6.

The Springboks launched an immediate investigation into the source of the stimulant, fearing at the time it may have been contained in supplements or sports drinks given to the whole squad. During the hearing in Cape Town it was confirmed that MHA was contained in supplements provided to the Springboks team in the warm-up before the game in Dublin.

Ralepelle and Basson were just the unfortunate players to be tested after South Africa's 23-21 victory at the Aviva Stadium.

The three-man disciplinary panel exonerated both players of any wrongdoing and admonished the South African Rugby Union (SARU) for not having the supplements tested more comprehensively.

SARU chief executive Jurie Roux apologised to Ralepelle and Basson.

"This verdict completely quashes any idea that either the players or the team were guilty of any attempt to cheat. No responsibility attaches to the players at all," Roux said.

"The banned stimulant was in a supplement given to the players in the warm-up before the Test against Ireland and is a product that has been used by the Springboks before - without any adverse analytical findings - and is used by other professional and national teams in both hemispheres.

"It was manufactured in the UK and was tested at SARU's request by one of only two laboratories in the world equipped to perform the necessary protocols in order to ensure that it complied with the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA).

"That the players subsequently tested positive for a banned stimulant was an enormous shock to the Springbok team, management and to SARU, and I am most sorry that the players have had to endure the stress and stigma attached to a failed dope test. Hopefully this verdict will have laid to rest any idea of any wrongdoing on their part."

©Press Association