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Springboks Ralepelle, Basson cleared to play

 FILE - In this Saturday, Nov.13, 2010 file picture South Africa's Bjorn Basson, right, tackles Wales' Andy Powell, left, during their international r...
 FILE - In this Saturday, July 4, 2009 file picture South Africa's Chiliboy Ralepelle, center, is tackled by British Lions' Joe Worsley, obstructed an...

Doping Springboks

FILE - In this Saturday, Nov.13, 2010 file picture South Africa's Bjorn Basson, right, tackles Wales' Andy Powell, left, during their international r...

South Africa Doping Springboks

FILE - In this Saturday, July 4, 2009 file picture South Africa's Chiliboy Ralepelle, center, is tackled by British Lions' Joe Worsley, obstructed an...

South Africa's rugby union is at fault for the positive doping tests of players Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson, a judicial committee said in a ruling released Friday.
The three-man committee said it was "comfortably satisfied" that Ralepelle and Basson were not aware that the supplement which the entire team consumed ahead of a match against Ireland in Dublin on Nov. 6 contained the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine.
They had not intended to enhance performance through the use of a prohibited substance, the committee found.
Ralepelle and Basson have been cleared to return to rugby immediately with a warning, the committee said, which was an appropriate sanction "in the exceptional circumstances of this case."
The Springboks team took the nutritional supplement known as Anabolic Nitro Nitric Oxide Extreme Energy Surge in the pre-match warmup and during halftime of the 23-21 win over Ireland on the instructions of Springboks conditioning coach Neels Liebel.
It was later discovered to contain methylhexaneamine, even though the same supplement had been used by the Springboks during the Tri-Nations earlier in 2010 without any problems.
Liebel also had no knowledge that the supplement contained the stimulant and a new batch of the product, delivered to the South Africa team in Britain during the tour, was blamed.
The committee, which was appointed by the South African Rugby Union, disagreed with SARU's argument that the positive tests were the fault of the two players, who should have refused the supplement.
"The management of SARU knew that the medical team of the Springbok team supplied the players with supplements," the committee said. "SARU, one assumes, in fact paid for the supplements.
"If there is any blame to be apportioned in this matter, SARU should be blamed for not having the supplements tested more comprehensively."
Ralepelle, 24, and Basson, 23, can now join their provincial team, the Bulls, for its buildup to the new Super 15 season, which begins next month. They had been facing bans of up to two years for the doping offense.
Speaking on behalf of both players, Ralepelle said the experience had been traumatic and they were looking forward to returning to rugby.
"Finally the facts are out there and people can see that we were not guilty and are not doping cheats," Ralepelle said. "We were only doing what the large majority of professional rugby players around the world do by using a supplement.
"Bjorn and I were the unlucky ones to be tested on the day and to have had to go through the trauma of the past 2 1/2 months."
Ralepelle, a hooker, and Basson, a promising try-scoring wing, were sent home from the end-of-year tour to Britain and Ireland and provisionally suspended from rugby after their failed tests were revealed.
"The players have already suffered the ignominy of being sent home early from the overseas tour, provisionally suspended for nearly three months and having their doping charges made public with the concomitant embarrassment, uncertainty, personal anguish and damage to their reputations," the committee added. "Any further punishment for the players in question would, however, be out of kilter with their lack of fault in the matter."
Speaking in Cape Town, SARU chief executive Jurie Roux apologized to Ralepelle and Basson and said the positive tests were "an enormous shock to the Springbok team, management and to SARU."
"I am most sorry that the players have had to endure the stress and stigma attached to a failed dope test," Roux said. "Hopefully this verdict will have laid to rest any idea of any wrong doing on their part."