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It is a second drugs ban for the 33-year-old hooker, who served a two-year suspension between 2014 and 2016 following a positive out-of-competition test while at French club Toulouse.
His lawyer, Hendrik Hugo, told local media there were “good grounds” to appeal the latest ban.
Ralepelle, the first black player to captain South Africa in a non-test clash against a World XV in Leicester in 2006, had tested positive for the banned anabolic agent, Zeranol, during an out-of-competition test in January last year, the Institute for Drug-free Sport said.
“The athlete challenged the doping charge and was afforded the opportunity to seek legal counsel to present his case and version of events to the Independent Doping Tribunal Panel,” the body said in a statement.
“The hearings were adjourned multiple times and were held over a period of six months. The panel reached a decision first on the merits of the case where they found the player guilty of a doping offense.
“The Zeranol positive case was his third positive dope test during his playing career within a 10-year period, however the player’s first positive case was ruled a ‘no fault decision’ and he then received a reprimand.”
That positive test was at the end of the Springboks' year-end tour to Europe in 2010.
“The panel had to refer to sports jurisprudence to determine the appropriate sanction which they ruled to be the player’s second doping offence,” it added.
Ralepelle, who last played for the Sharks in 2019, has 21 days to appeal.