Comrades winner stands firm

2012-06-23 16:36

Comrades Marathon champion Ludwick Mamabolo is a tough man to track down.

This week the man from Mankweng, who was hailed as a hero earlier this month after becoming the first South African to win the Comrades since 2005, found himself at the centre of a storm.

It emerged that he had tested positive for methylhexaneamine, which the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport lists among its banned substances.

Contacted by phone, Mamabolo said: “I can’t comment on the matter at this moment. I reserve my comment.”

About two hours later, City Press found the runner sitting in his lounge in Mankweng, near Polokwane.

Minutes later, he excused himself, saying: “I will be with you shortly, guys – I’m not running away from you.”

That was the last City Press saw of him. When phoned, Mamabolo said he was at the bank.

His father, Jeremiah Mamabolo arrived at the house and apologised on his son’s behalf. “He is overwhelmed. Everyone is looking for him.”

Mamabolo’s uncle, Jerry Ramohlale, called the test results and allegations against the runner a conspiracy designed to discredit “a young black boy from the dusty streets of Mankweng”.

“Maybe the urine sample was tampered with. Who knows? Why did the results take 17 days to come out?

How do we know what happens from when the samples are taken until the day the results are released?”

Ramohlale said the results had ruined Mamabolo’s short-term plans, and could also jeopardise his long-term plans and running career.

“He was supposed to go to the youth parliament in Cape Town, but he couldn’t go. We were supposed to throw a huge party for him, but now we can’t. We wanted him to start competing in international races, but he can’t with this hanging over his head.

“We are very worried and it is a serious setback. We want to know where this comes from.”

He said the family would fight alongside Mamabolo to prove his innocence.

Ramohlale insisted the banned substance couldn’t have originated from any medication or tablets: as a devout member of the Zion Christian Church, Mamabolo does not use “Western medication”.

He suggested that the race organisers should carefully scrutinise drinks being handed out to athletes by spectators, as these could be “poisoned” or contain banned substances.

“He is okay, he doesn’t feel guilty. He told us not to worry as he has nothing to hide. No one in this community ever thinks he can ever do something like that.”

Dr Shuaib Manjra, chairperson of the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport, said he did not want to comment on the Mamabolo issue because it was going to be heard by a tribunal.

However, he said it would be difficult for spectators to spike runners’ drinks.

“Fizzy drinks, water and energy drinks are usually provided by the official sponsors, so spiking by spectators is very difficult,” Manjra said.

“Elite athletes usually have their own roadside people giving them drinks.”

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