IRB Keep Rugby Clean ambassador and former Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi was the key-note speaker at an important anti-doping seminar organised to educate some of the top young players in his native Argentina.
The event was part of a number of activities arranged by the Argentine Rugby Union at the Junior Argentine Championship with all 16 Under 18 squads present in Santa Fe involved.
The former Bristol, Leinster, Toulon and Stade Français player supports the Keep Rugby Clean campaign and explained to more than 450 young players the background to Rugby’s fight against doping and outlined clearly what their responsibilities are in that regard.
“The energy that the boys exuded, their interest, spontaneity and their innocence made this an enjoyable experience for me. I want to pass on my thoughts on this subject, I explain how I have always believed it’s right to fight for clean Rugby,” said Contepomi, who is a qualified doctor.
“I explained to them the anti-doping structures and the challenge that Rugby faces today as regards steroids, social drugs and supplements. We sent a clear message about the absolute responsibility for everything that enters his system lying with the player.
“Players must know that reward comes from hard work and sacrifice and it is important they consider total nutrition, not just supplements. I think the message was received and I hope it will be useful to them as they hear about Rugby’s values.”
Contepomi pointed out that players in their late teens and early 20s were the ones most vulnerable to the temptation and false information that accompanies doping. He is determined to give those players the tools and information they need to make the right decisions and be successful.
“Felipe is an important ambassador in our ongoing fight against doping in Rugby,” said IRB Anti-Doping Manager Ilaria Baudo.
“He has played at the highest level and knows what it takes to get there and to stay there. He is a medical practitioner who is aware of the dangers presented by doping and what a negative effect it can have on the body. When he talks to young players like this, they listen and education is a crucial element of our campaign.”
Indeed, during this latest seminar, the boys were fully focused and, given Contepomi is a hero to many of them, there was a special connection between them. This trust meant many of the players felt comfortable enough to ask questions at the end of the talk and, afterwards, Contepomi took the time to talk informally with many of them and pose for the inevitable photos.
Uriel Cáceres, a player with Misiones, said: “Of course we all know Felipe from Los Pumas and it’s exciting for us to meet him. Most of the things he said I did not know and I am going to spread to the rest of my team-mates. We now know we are at risk whenever we take something and that we must all take responsibility ourselves.”
Gonzalo Romagnoli from Santa Fe added: “The talk was very good. At the beginning he said it was going to be boring but it was not. It’s great that a person of his level can talk to us about this. It is easier for the message to reach its destination if he sends it.”
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