Former Springbok and Sharks hooker Mahlatse Ralepelle was handed an eight-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance last year.
Ralepelle, popularly knowns as Chiliboy, tested positive for Zeranol, an anabolic agent, during an out-of-competition test on January 17 2019.
This was the 33-year-old’s third positive doping test during his playing career within a 10-year period. Ralepelle, a repeat offender, had previously tested positive on two different occasions, in 2010 and 2015, while playing overseas.
“The athlete challenged the doping charge and was afforded the opportunity to seek legal counsel to present his case and version of events to the tribunal panel. The hearings were adjourned multiple times and were held over a period of six months. The panel reached a decision first on the merits of the case where they found the player guilty of a doping offense,” the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) said.
Ralepelle has 21 days appeal against the decision by the Independent Doping Tribunal Pane which runs until January 2027.
The former Springbok told local publication News24 that though he and his team were trying to figure out how to move forward, this was not how he had envisioned his career ending.
“Once we have all of those on the table, then it will make it easier for one to make a decision, whether you go ahead with the appeal or you stand back and move on with life,” Ralepelle told News24.
“At the end of the day, whether it’s four or eight years, it’s the end of my career.”
Ralepelle, who warned athletes to be extra careful and protect themselves, hinted that he was looking beyond rugby and possibly concentrating on his studies.
“I need to get back out there in terms of furthering my studies and so on. I am looking forward to moving on to a completely new chapter outside of sport, which is what I’ve known my whole life.”
Ralepelle made his Test debut for South Africa in 2006 against New Zealand in Pretoria while his final appearance was in a 25-10 defeat to England in Cape Town in June 2018.