Drug scandals that rocked rugby

Date published: November 17 2010

Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson have hit the front pages for all the wrong reasons, but it's not the first time rugby has seen its good standing tainted.

Springbok duo Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson have hit the front pages for all the wrong reasons during South Africa's Grand Slam tour.

But it's not the first time rugby has seen its good standing tainted, as our list of unfortunate incidents shows…

Andries Truscott (South Africa): In 1993, the former Northern Traansvaal (Blue Bulls) and South Africa hooker was slapped with a two-year ban by the New Zealand Rugby Union as a result of testing positive for the use of the banned stimulant Prolintane during a match against North Harbour in Auckland. Truscott pleaded his case, saying he had taken the drug for a knee injury and had been told by medical experts that this would not have assisted his performance. Before the ban, Truscott was heir apparent to South Africa's first-choice Bok hooker at the time, Uli Schmidt.

Johan Ackermann (South Africa): The Northern Transvaal lock was banned in 1997 for two years after traces of nandrolone were found in his system. However, the second-row forward returned to the game and ten years later became the oldest player to represent South Africa at the ripe old age of 37.

Lawrence Dallaglio (England): In 1999, it was no laughing matter when LOL resigned the England captaincy following newspaper allegations that he had taken and dealt hard drugs. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) dropped drugs charges against the Wasps loose forward after 'new evidence' emerged during an open hearing chaired by a high court judge who decided not to ban him but instead imposed a fine of £15,000 for bringing the game into disrepute.

Ben Tune (Australia): In March 2001, Tune tested positive to the banned substance probenecid which is a drug used to increase the effects of antibiotics. However, for Tune, and not to his or his doctor's knowledge, probenecid is on the list of banned substances because it can mask the presence of steroids in the system. When the positive test was announced a year later, the Australian Rugby Union successfully avoided a ban and the International Rugby Board later ruled that Tune was free to play for the Wallabies.

Pieter De Villiers (France): The South African-born tighthead was dropped from France's Six Nations team after testing positive for cocaine and ecstasy in an out-of-competition test in 2002. Weeping in front for the press, De Villiers insisted he did not knowingly take the drugs, and put the test result down to his drink being spiked on a night out in Paris. French anti-doping laws at the time said only performance-enhancing drugs can be sought in out-of-competition testing, so the French Rugby Federation suspended him until the end of the Six Nations tournament for bringing the game into disrepute.

Wendel Sailor (Australia): Cocaine ended Sailor's rugby career. He was banned for two years after he returned a positive test in 2006 following a Super 14 clash and Australian rugby officials tore up his half-million-dollar-a-year contract. But after two-years in the wilderness, 35-year-old Sailor cleaned up his act and returned to Rugby League where he currently plays with St George Illawarra Dragons.

Rupeni Caucaunibuca (Fiji): In 2007, Fiji's celebrated winger Caucaunibuca was suspended for three months after failing a drug test after Agen's match against Montauban – yes, cannabis.

Matt Stevens (England): The England and Bath prop was suspended from all rugby until January 2011 after he received a two-year ban for failing a drugs test in what was described as “the prescribed sanction” after his sample was found to contain metabolites of cocaine.

Scott MacLeod (Scotland): The former Scotland forward tested positive twice in 2008, but cleared on both occasions: the first time after a judicial committee accepted that a positive test in January had been caused by a change in his asthma medicine, and the second after investigators accepted that his high levels of testosterone were triggered by alcohol. During the investigation, Macleod was suspended from action for a month.

Michael Lipman, Alex Crockett and Andrew Higgins (England and Bath): In 2009, the former Bath players were banned for nine months by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) after being found guilty on two charges of missing drugs tests. Charges relating to taking drugs were dropped at the beginning of their disciplinary hearing. The trio, who quit Bath shortly before they were due to attend an internal club hearing over the alleged missed tests, were eligible to play rugby again in February this year. England international Lipman, together with former joint Bath captain Crockett and Higgins, said at the time they had quit Bath because their positions at the club had become untenable in the light of “scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations”.

Mathieu Loree (Racing Metro): The Racing-Metro scrum-half was hit with a four-month suspension earlier this year after testing positive for cannabis. The ban was handed down by the French Rugby Federation's anti-doping commission after Loree failed the test conducted on November 21 last year.