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South Africa's Ralepelle faces 2-year rugby suspension after positive doping test

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa - South Africa hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle faces a two-year suspension from rugby union after testing positive for an anabolic steroid during an out-of-competition doping test in France, South African doping officials said Tuesday.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) said in a statement that Ralepelle had returned a positive test for drostanolone on March 19.

At the time, the 27-year-old was recovering from surgery after tearing his knee ligaments while playing for Toulouse in a Top 14 game against Biarritz.

"For now, I insist on the fact that Chiliboy is presumed innocent," Toulouse president Ren� Bouscatel was quoted as saying by the French newspaper L'Equipe.

"Moreover, I cannot sanction a player if there is no final judgment. But if it turns out he knowingly took illegal substances, we would be intransigent."

Although SAIDS Chief Executive Khalid Galant confirmed that Ralepelle had tested positive for drostanolone, he said he could not provide any further details because the test had been conducted outside the country.

The French Anti-Doping Agency did not immediately return emails seeking comment, so it was unclear whether Ralepelle's backup "B'' sample had been tested or when a hearing would be held.

Drostanolone is often used by bodybuilders and can lead to higher levels of testosterone, though it is also used to lower cholesterol.

It is the second time that Ralepelle has tested positive for a banned substance.

In 2010, both he and teammate Bjorn Basson were found with methylhexanamine in their systems, but the two were later cleared by the South African Rugby Union because the stimulant had come from a supplement provided to players.

Ralepelle has played in 22 tests for South Africa. In 2008, he became the first black player and the youngest to captain the Springboks when he led them out in an unofficial test against a World XV at Walkers Stadium in England.

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