Sponsor comes through for wronged Comrades champion

2013-05-07 00:00

COMRADES Marathon champion Ludwick Mamabolo finally received the spoils yesterday — more than 11 months after crossing the finish line.

In addition to the trophy, medals and R300 000 in prize money from the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA), a major sponsor who had dumped him over alleged doping also tried to make amends.

Last night, Mr Price Sport said that it would pay Mamabolo his 2012 Comrades incentive in accordance with the contract it had terminated when the doping allegations came to light last year.

Neither Mr Price nor Mamabolo were prepared to disclose how much this amounted to, saying it was confidential.

Mamabolo told The Witness last night he was very happy that the sponsor had honoured its part of the agreement.

Nikki Viljoen, for Mr Price Sport, said the agreement had been for one Comrades Marathon and that Mamabolo had not signed for another year.

Earlier yesterday, a beaming Mamabolo, flanked by CMA chairperson Dave Dixon and board member Steve Mkasi at the Comrades House, told reporters: “I am very happy that this day is finally here.”

Mamabolo received the winner’s trophy, a gold medal for finishing in the top 10, another medal for completing the marathon and R300 000 in prize money.

“I have two other medals [from previous events], this number one [gold] medal was the one I wanted the most and it almost slipped away from me.”

Mamabolo (36) was cleared last week of doping charges after an independent tribunal found multiple irregularities in the testing process.

Yesterday he said the long wait had been hard because he had lost Mr Price’s sponsorship.

However, he made it clear he did not hold grudges.

“Why should they have not [dropped] me? I ruined their brand.”

Mamabolo said he was not surprised that he had been cleared — he knew he had never cheated.

“I am an athlete … This is the talent that God gave me and I did not use any drugs to enhance my performance …

“I live a good life, I have never smoked or drank or spent time messing around with girls.

“I have always spent all my time working hard and training and not interested in other things to the point where my parents complained whether I was normal.”

It was God’s will for him to go through these trying times “so we can see all the problems” with testing, he said.

“This shows that as athletes we needed to follow the rules and not be involved in doping.

“If something like this could happen to me and I am here, still standing, this was God’s will,” he said.

Mamabolo reiterated that he did not plan to sue. He thanked Dixon for his support and said he focus on defending his title.

“To you [Dixon] my gift will be to bring the cup back home this coming marathon.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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