Sport

FINAL CURTAIN

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies slapped with career-ending four-year ban

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies slapped with career-ending four-year ban
Elton Jantjies has previously denied knowingly taking the banned substance and vowed to prove his innocence. (Photo: Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images)

Elton Jantjies has formally been banned from rugby after failing to prove his innocence in a case of doping. 

A couple of tumultuous years for experienced Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies have culminated in him being banned from participating in the sport for four years.

Jantjies, who was part of the Springbok team that won the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, announced in August 2023 that the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) had notified him that a urine sample taken from him in June of that year had returned a positive result for a banned substance.

That said substance was Clenbuterol. This drug is used by some bodybuilders to cut weight and increase muscle mass, though it is also used to aid with breathing difficulties for asthma patients in some countries.

In his statement from 2023, the former Lions No 10 denied knowingly taking the medication and vowed to prove his innocence.

“At this stage, I can say little more about the matter, save that I assure all my supporters that I have not and never will deliberately take a banned substance, and that I will do everything in my power to prove my innocence,” he said at the time.

However, Saids said on their website that Jantjies had not exercised his right to have the case heard before an independent doping hearing panel.

Saids CEO Khalid Galant also told Daily Maverick that Jantjies had been informed of his potential punishment in December. However, he did not lodge an appeal within the required period and “by default had to accept the decision,” which the anti-doping organisation publicised this week. 

The four years handed to Jantjies is the maximum punishment that can be imposed for testing positive for a substance such as Clenbuterol.

Galant said it was a shame to see someone of Jantjies stature and influence being sucked in by the abyss of doping. However, another Springbok, Aphiwe Dyantyi, also served four years for a doping violation, before returning to the field with the Sharks in 2023.

“It’s very disappointing on that level. Especially for those aspiring to be top rugby players or Springbok players, who may have looked at Elton as a role model,” the Saids chief executive told Daily Maverick.

“Elton was clearly a very talented playmaker and rugby player. So many players or kids would have wanted to emulate him. If you watched some high school or varsity matches you would see some of the players sporting his hairstyle. He definitely had an influence.”

An SA Rugby spokesperson issued the following statement: “The South African Rugby Union wholly supports clean sport and maintains that there is absolutely no place in rugby for doping. We have trust in the processes and outcomes followed by the independent anti-doping agencies, whose job it is to support sports in keeping the game clean”.

In May 2022 Jantjies was arrested on charges of malicious damage to property, as well as contravening aviation laws on a flight home from holiday.  He had also allegedly verbally abused fellow passengers and crew members on the flight. The charges were later dropped.

In the same year, Jantjies was back in the limelight for the wrong reasons once more. This time after being sent packing from a Bok camp in Argentina, over allegations of an affair with the team’s dietician Zeenat Simjee — allegations the pair dismissed as being fiction.

This latest development is likely to be the final nail in the 33-year-old’s career, which saw him capped over 40 times for the Springboks. DM

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