Ireland great blasts South Africa’s ‘questionable’ doping record after disgraced wing ‘celebrated’

Colin Newboult
Aphiwe Dyantyi scoring a try for South Africa against New Zealand.

Aphiwe Dyantyi scoring a try for South Africa against New Zealand in 2018.

Former Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy has delivered a withering assessment of South Africa’s reaction to Aphiwe Dyantyi’s comeback.

The wing made his return from a four-year doping ban in the Sharks’ United Rugby Championship (URC) defeat to Leinster in October.

Dyantyi burst onto the scene in 2018 and received a call-up to the Springboks’ squad later that year.

He would earn 13 caps for the national team before testing positive for metandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

Given a second chance

The back three player was suspended until August 2023, but he has been handed a second chance by the Sharks and made his home debut against Connacht in the URC last weekend.

“Instead of lauding the smash and grab by Connacht, it was the return of Aphiwe Dyantyi that caught the eye for me. What really struck me was that his return was so celebrated by the home crowd and the home broadcaster,” D’Arcy wrote in his Irish Times column.

“Dyantyi did very little of note in the game and yet he was interviewed post-match. Nobody was in the least bit sheepish or ashamed about welcoming back a proven doper.”

The ex-Ireland star also referenced previous doping offences for other Springboks players, suggesting that it is becoming a theme.

“Time and again, South Africa’s record with this stuff is questionable, to say the least. Just this summer, their playmaker Elton Jantjies had to withdraw from the wider Springbok World Cup squad after testing positive for an anabolic steroid,” he added.

“In 2020, former South Africa hooker Mahlatse ‘Chiliboy’ Ralepelle was banned for eight years after he tested positive for a banned substance for the third time in a decade.

“These aren’t obscure players. Dyantyi was World Rugby’s breakthrough player of the year in 2018. Jantjies and Ralepelle both played for the Springboks on and off for over a decade. Imagine equivalent Irish players serving long doping bans. Imagine the kind of reception they would get when they came back.

“Yet here’s Rassie Erasmus on Dyantyi earlier this summer. ‘I really hope that he comes back with a bang and he does really well for the Sharks. And I hope we can one day pick him for the Springboks again.’

“Even with the caveat that everyone deserves a second chance, this type of ringing endorsement for a proven doper contributes towards a greying culture of cheating.”

Cheats prosper

South Africa have won the last two World Cups and D’Arcy believes that, as a result, they should be setting the standard for others to follow.

By celebrating Dyantyi’s return, the 43-year-old is worried that they are making it acceptable for the next generation of players to dope.

“South Africa won so many supporters over the last two World Cup cycles. As back-to-back world champions, they should be setting the gold standard when it comes to doping,” he wrote.

“Instead, they have chosen a more laissez-faire attitude to enforcement and there doesn’t seem to be a culture of condemnation. Instead, the message to young players seems to be – cheat and you will be okay. That can’t be good enough.”

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