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20 July 2016

Ghana Rugby sensitises members on anti-doping

Herbert MensahThe Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) has embarked on a campaign to sensitize the Rugby Family in Ghana on the seriousness of doping.

The campaign follows a shocking revelations in the McLaren report which pointed to state-sponsored doping in Russia.

The findings indicated that urine samples of Russian competitors were manipulated across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports from late 2011 to August 2015.

According to the President of the GRFU, Mr Herbert Mensah, Rugby has been known to keep its nose relatively clean in the area of doping but that he has instructed his administration to sensitise the Rugby patrons in the light of the latest revelations.

Mensah also said, “We have kicked off the sensitisation campaign by bringing World Rugby’s stringent guidelines as outlined in Regulation 21 to the attention of all administrators and players via our online communication channels.”

He said World Rugby has regulated doping extensively and infringements are subject to sanctions that may, depending on the seriousness of the offence, lead to a lifetime ban.

Besides Russia some of the biggest doping scandals to hit sport include

1. Athletics doping cover-up

Bigger than anything that has come before due to senior figures in the sport – including former IAAF president Lamine Diack – being charged with criminal offences after allegedly taking of bribes from Russian athletes, who were found to be part of a state-sponsored doping programme that “sabotaged” London 2012. Russia became the first country suspended for drugs offences.

2. Lance Armstrong

Prior to the current scandal engulfing athletics, the revelation by the US Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong had cheated his way to all seven of his Tour de France titles was the most shocking doping story in sport. Also involved unproven – and vehemently denied – allegations of a cover-up involving cycling’s world governing body.

3. Ben Johnson

The most reviled drugs cheat in athletics. The Canadian was found to have taken steroids to win the 1988 Olympic 100 metres title in a world-record time of 9.79secs. Ultimately, six of the eight finalists from that race tested positive for banned drugs or were implicated in a doping scandal in their careers.

4. Diego Maradona

One of the greatest footballers of all time was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine.

5. The BALCO scandal

Britain’s Dwain Chambers (pictured), Olympic sprint champion Marion Jones and baseball great Barry Bonds were among those found to have been customers of the steroid-producing Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative.

6. Operacion Puerto

Already a huge doping scandal – the name was bestowed on the case by Spanish police who were targeting the doping ring of doctor Eufemiano Fuentes (pictured) – this could yet be the most explosive ever if an appeal against the destruction of blood bags by a Spanish judge is upheld.

Cyclists named in the case included Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Alberto Contador (the latter was ultimately cleared of involvement in the affair by the Spanish courts), and there are suggestions many other high-profile sportspeople could be implicated.

7. The Festina affair

The discovery of a cache of doping products in the possession of Bruno Roussel’s Festina cycling team during the 1998 Tour de France was the first great drugs scandal of modern cycling. The affair led to the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

8. The Mitchell Report

Former United States Senator George Mitchell’s inquiry into widespread drug-taking in Major League Baseball found that during the random testing period in 2003, up to 7 per cent of players tested positive for steroid use. In all, 89 former and current MLB players – including legends such as Barry Bonds – were named in the report.

9. Floyd Landis

Landis was considered the biggest drugs cheat in cycling until his predecessor as Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong, was finally exposed. The 2006 Tour winner tested positive for an unusually high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone and was banned for two years.

10. Justin Gatlin

Twice banned for testing positive before returning to sprinting and running faster than ever. The US sprinter almost beat Usain Bolt at this year’s World Championships.

Although Rugby does not feature in any of the major scandals, South African rugby was rocked on Tuesday with the confirmation that two players had tested positive during routine testing for using banned substances.

Mr Mensah said that the initial sensitisation steps will be followed up by the appointment of a select committee to delve into this menace and make recommendations to him and his Board on how to keep Rugby clean.

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