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"We are wrong to highlight South Africa"| Clive Woodward on doping in rugby

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

20:51 19 Sep 2019

Clive Woodward believes it is wrong to highlight South Africa in regard to doping, and that more investment needs to be put into testing infrastructure to improve the game of rugby.

Woodward was speaking at Off The Ball's Heineken #OTBUCHL roadshow in Limerick, as attention turned to the issue in the aftermath of Aphiwe Dyantyi's positive test in July.

Woodward was taken aback that Dyantyi's test had not made wider news than it did at the time.

"I think the only thing that surprised me was the lack of media coverage, because this positive test didn't just happen last week." said Woodward.

"If that had been a cyclist, a swimmer or an athlete then it would have been massive, front-page news."

Woodward expressed confusion as to why there was a perceived lack of coverage of such a high-profile player being found to have tested positive for a banned substance.

"I think that is why rugby has to be careful because this wasn't a junior player, or a level-three player - this was one of the superstar players. To me, it was a huge story that didn't get much coverage. That was the only surprise to me."

He also believes that investment in testing infrastructure may be needed to tackle the problem in rugby as it stands.

"You can never invest or spend enough money in trying to control [it] or get the tests in place. It is incredibly expensive when you are on the other side of things, to actually run these tests.

"To run a proper doping programme, on a worldwide basis for a sport like rugby, needs a lot of investment from all the basic unions.

"But I think that anyone would be quite naive to say that this is not going on because the temptations are there. Like it is with any power sports - we have seen the problems the Olympic sports have had.

"Rugby has just got to do everything humanly possible to just have zero-tolerance to this situation. But it is an expensive process to put in place when you are trying to actually monitor these athletes on a worldwide basis."

In terms of his own experiences at the top level with any issues around doping, Woodward was unequivocal.

"Not at all," he said when asked of any personal experience of the prevalence of doping at the top level.

"I hope these are isolated incidents, but when you see the numbers, we are wrong to highlight South Africa here.

"I think you will have find that people have been tested [positive] all around the world. It can happen. You can get this stuff online, if you are inclined to do this.

"I think it is wrong to pick on South Africa at this stage, especially with the World Cup coming up. They had a high-profile player test positive, but it is a worldwide issue for the game of rugby."

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Doping Rugby South Africa World Cup 2019

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