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Gosper confident that drug abuse isn't systematic throughout game

Full support: Brett Gosper backs drug-testing programme
Full support: Brett Gosper backs drug-testing programme

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

The spectre of doping looms large over the Rugby World Cup in the wake of South African star, and World Rugby's Breakthrough Player of the Year for 2018, Aphiwe Dyantyi's positive test on the eve of the tournament.

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The game's governing body does not believe that there is a systematic doping strategy at work in the professional game, with chief executive Brett Gosper issuing a defence of the testing programme.

Dyantyi is awaiting word of a potential four-year suspension after both his A and B urine samples tested positive for multiple anabolic steroids and metabolites last month.

Gosper was asked if he was confident in the systems in place and if rugby remained a sport for all shapes and sizes in the context of the now famous photograph of the topless, flexing Springboks squad that went viral last week.

"First of all, we invest vast sums of money in a very meticulous drug-testing programme in terms of testing via passports. We've been testing the players at this World Cup for the last four years and haven't stopped, mainly out-of-competiton, where you're more likely to catch offenders," he said.

"Our belief is that we do not have a systematic or institutional doping problem at the elite level of rugby.

"We've seen some evidence in the community, reflecting community desires to be looking good and fit and all the rest of it.

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"But at the elite level, we're not seeing that issue. Yes, we still believe rugby is a sport for all shapes and sizes, though they're more fit shapes and sizes than back in the day.

"Short answer, in the elite game there are exceptional findings occasionally, but no systemic problem. We're very confident in our drug-testing programme."

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