Disgraced Namibian rugby player Arthur Bouwer’s career is at a crossroads and faces an epic downfall following an announcement by the world’s rugby governing body, World Rugby (previously known as the International Rugby Board), that they have slapped the scrum-half with a four-year ban for doping.
In June this year during the Nations Cup in Bucharest, Romania, while on international duty with the national senior rugby team, the Welwitschias, Bouwer provided a compulsory urine sample (Number 6218295) during an out-of-competition test conducted as part of World Rugby’s 2016 Nations Cup testing programme.
When the results were returned the outcome was shocking, as Bouwer’s A-sample returned an adverse analytical findings (AAF), which exposed an avalanche of banned substances in his body and chief among the substances identified in his urine samples were metabolites of Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone.
Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone is a banned anabolic steroid, widely sold under the brand name Oral Turinabol. The substance, which is classified under Exogenous Androgenic Anabolic Steroids on WADA’s 2016 list of prohibited substances, has been discontinued worldwide by all major pharmaceutical houses and is now mostly found through underground labs.
According to a statement issued by World Rugby, Bouwer did not challenge the outcome of the analytical findings from the Swiss laboratory and further went on record to state he was indeed guilty of using prohibited substances without paying due diligence to the various ingredients or components of the substances he took at the time.
Bouwer’s samples were sent to a WADA accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland where thorough testing and analysis were done on the samples.
“For the forgoing reasons, the sanction imposed for this anti-doping rule violation is a period of ineligibility of four years (48 months) commencing 12 July and concluding on 11 July 2020. In pursuant to Regulation 22.214.171.124 of World Rugby’s anti-doping rules, during the period of ineligibility the player (Bouwer) may only return to training with a team and may also use facilities of a union or a club … but will not be allowed to engage in any competitive rugby activities until on or after 12 May 2020,” reads the World Rugby statement.
The statement further continued: “During the training period described above, the player may not compete or engage in any other activity as described, other than just mere training… This decision is final, subject to referral to a Post Hearing Review Body (Regulation 126.96.36.199) or an appeal, where the circumstances permit to the Court of Arbitration For Sport (Regulation 188.8.131.52). In this regard, attention is also directed to Regulation 184.108.40.206, which sets out the process for referral to a Post Hearing Review Body, including the time within which the process must be initiated.”
As per the rules and regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and World Rugby, the only manner in which an athlete can survive a scandal of this magnitude is when he proves beyond reasonable doubt that the consumed banned steroids were aimed at treating a legitimate medical condition, which could ease the punishment, otherwise a lengthy ban from the sport or even lengthy jail sentences are some of the other avenues WADA resorts to in such cases.