Monday 19 March 2018

Springboks face testing times

Chris Hewett

The doping authorities are keeping an unusually close eye on the touring South Africans as they enter the final stages of a long and painful international season.

After their defeat at Murrayfield on Saturday, the shop-soiled world champions saw half a dozen of their number tested for illicit substances, as opposed to a mere couple of Scots -- the inevitable consequence of the drug scandal that saw two Springboks, winger Bjorn Basson and the hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, head home early after giving positive samples for the stimulant methylhexaneamine.

"We've never experienced testing on this scale before, but we're not in a position to object," said the Boks' chief medic, Dr Craig Roberts, as the squad arrived in London for this weekend's last hurrah against England.

"The situation surrounding methylhexaneamine is a minefield, as it has crept into an increasing number of commonly used medical products. We're still testing everything our players have taken on this trip, but it takes time. I do not believe anyone has knowingly done anything wrong."

The players have more pressing business on their agenda: namely, the immediate challenge of salvaging something worthwhile from a failed Grand Slam campaign and shielding Peter de Villiers from the growing number of critics who want him ousted well before next year's World Cup.

They may have to do that without the services of prop Tendai Mtawarira after he missed training yesterday with a medial knee ligament strain.

The 25-year-old Sharks loosehead has started all three Tests on tour but picked up the injury in the 21-17 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

Should Mtawarira, nicknamed 'The Beast', be ruled out, CJ van der Linde is likely to be the man to deputise. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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