MAXINE TWADDLE

Last year’s Tuks Varsity Cup captain Zane Botha has been banned from playing rugby for two years after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Rumours of a Tuks Varsity Cup player failing a drug test surfaced on Twitter on 6 March. Later that day Botha admitted that a test he took in January came back positive. Botha explained to Perdeby that he confirmed the allegations because he “felt that it was best to deal with [the situation] head on and confess and tell the whole story.”

Botha confirmed that he began using stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid, after a knee operation in September last year and used it until the end of December. Unlike most anabolic steroids, stanozolol is administered orally. It improves muscle growth and red blood cell production and increases bone density. The drug allows athletes to lose weight while retaining lean body mass. Stanozolol can be detected in urine and remains detectible for ten days after it has entered the body.

Botha said that he began using the steroid to gain muscle mass. “I play hooker and felt that I could use the extra strength and weight,” he said.

Botha captained the 2012 Tuks Varsity Cup team which won the tournament for the first time in the University of Pretoria’s history. He said that he was not using steroids while he was playing in the Varsity Cup. “I [have] never appeared in a Tuks jersey since I started [using steroids],” he told Perdeby.

According to Botha, the use of performance-enhancing drugs is not prevalent in rugby. “To my knowledge, it is not common for rugby players to use steroids,” he said. “The risk of getting tested is quite high and the consequences are severe.”

According to the South African Institution for Drug-Free Sport’s regulations, Botha will not be able to play competitive rugby for two years from the date of his testing positive. His ban will end in the beginning of 2015. Botha has moved back to Bloemfontein, where he grew up.

At the time of going to print, TuksRugby was not available for comment.

Photo: varsitycup.co.za

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