Rugby Authorities need to get a grasp of global schoolboy doping - Ross Tucker

6 schoolboys tested positive recently in South Africa

BY Simon Maguire 12:59 Thursday 1 November 2018, 12:59 1 Nov 2018

Ross Tucker joined Thursday's #OTBAM to discuss the recent revelations about schoolboy doping in South Africa.

"It's sadly predictable give the way that rugby is structured in South Africa. I don't know if this is the same everywhere - I wouldn't be surprised if it were. 

"In this country, if you're going to get a professional contract, you need to be seen at 18, but if you want to be seen at 18 - you have to be seen at 16.

"And, if you want to be seen at 16 - you have to have been seen at 13 so we've created what's basically a race to the bottom and the consequences of that is that parents and kids and coaches are saying 'How do I improve my chances of getting into that shop window? How do I improve the probability that a scout at the next level up will see me and identify me as a talented player? 

"The answer is 'I have to be bigger, stronger and faster' and so, it would be interesting to know the evolution of how it works - whether the parent first says 'Let's look at diet and that's what we're going to work on' and with every good intention in the world - they soon might realise that the diet might no do enough. 

"So they say, 'Let's try some supplements' and of course, that's got a ceiling and eventually you make the decision on steroid or do they just go straight to doping. So I don't know how that evolves but the problem is  we've created a race to the bottom and parents with good intentions resort to not-such-good means to help get their kids ahead in life. 

"It takes one person for the whole system to basically collapse in on itself because if everyone stopped at diet, then, in theory, it's just 'me versus you'.

"But, if five boys start doping and I start getting left behind then how do I catch up? If the effects of drug use is that powerful - you have to do it. You either give up and find another sport or you don't and you take the drugs.   

"And the problem in South Africa is that rugby is so much part of the psyche that young kids aspire to become Springboks and they're going to go that way. Layered on to that is the environmental changes where, and this is a bold ascertain because they have never been as available as they are now, you could walk into any fitness club and probably pick them up just by looking for the biggest guy on the floor and striking up a conversation.

"So, I think the free availability, the pressure to succeed is getting younger and younger and younger - it invites the parents to get involved. The coaches also get involved because there's tremendous prestige in winning at junior level so the coach isn't going to stand in the way, at best. At worst, he's going to contribute to it. 

"It's just this perfect mixture of all the elements that you need for doping to happen. 

"I don't know this to be true but I suspect if other countries did the same thing - they would find the same result - that there is a doping problem in schoolboy rugby because why would it be different in South Africa? 

"So I would imagine that this exists globally and I would hope that someone is going to take it upon themselves to look into it."

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