Comrades drug shock

2012-06-20 00:00

IT WAS a proud moment earlier this month when Ludwick Mamabolo became the first South African in seven years to win a Comrades title — but yesterday his career lay in tatters.

Labelled a dope cheat after he tested positive for the banned substance, methylhexaneamine, the Limpopo ultra-marathon runner now has to fight to clear his name.

The substance is the same one that got two Springboks booted out of a tour to Europe two years ago.

Springboks Chilliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson were later cleared after a judicial committee found that there was “no fault” on their part for testing positive for a banned stimulant. (See sidebar)

Mamabolo (37) could not be reached for comment yesterday, but his furious trainer, Jerry Ramohlale, said the champion was in shock.

“It must be a set-up to tarnish his name. As an athlete this could be very difficult to come back from.”

Ramohlale told The Witness: “We do not trust these results. We believe they may have been interfered with.”

He did not believe Mamabolo needed to take any stimulant.

“If you look at the time he ran in 2010, when he came second, and you compare it with the time he ran when he won [this year], they are very similar.”

“If you could take him out to run now you will see that is capable of running that time.”

Ramohlale said the allegations were damaging.

The way forward still had to be decided.

“However, as our son, we love him and we are fully behind him,” the trainer said

Mamabolo’s father, Jeremy, said the news was very bad for his son and family.

“This is the sort of thing that could make him hang himself and we are very worried.

“We do not know where these [positive test results] are coming from.

“He lives a very clean life and does not drink or smoke and is not a person who even takes headache tablets so we are very worried about where all of this is coming from.”

He echoed Ramohlale’s words that Mamabolo did not need to take any stimulants.

“The times he ran in 2010 and in 2012 are similar.”

Mamabolo snr also decried the fact that the doping results were shown on television before the family was informed.

“I saw this on TV and no one had bothered to tell us about them.”

However, it is still too early to say whether the positive test is the final word for Mamabolo.

Dr Shuaib Manjra, chairperson of the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport, said Mamabolo can request that his B-sample also be tested.

“If that is found to be positive as well, he will face a hearing,” Manjra said.

If Mamabolo is stripped of the title, Bongmusa Mthembu, of Pietermaritzburg, who finished second, will replace him as this year’s winner.

An irritable Mthembu declined to comment, saying he knew nothing about the matter.

Comrades Marathon Association spokesperson Delaine Cools told The Witness that Mamabolo’s win had got the nation into a state of joy.

“We are now in a state of disappointment,” she said.

Johan van Staden, also with the CMA, said they would not act against the runner as yet.

“As soon as we get official notice [from the South African Institute for Drug-free Sport], we will act accordingly, and he will be stripped of his title.”

Van Staden said athletes did not receive their medals or prize money until they were proven to be clean.

“Some athletes will do anything to get to the top, so we make sure that we test our top finishers.

“We had zero positives last year, and one in 2010, but I can’t say exactly how many athletes have lost their medals due to doping, or other forms of cheating,” he said.

Mr Price, the team for which Mamabolo races, would not comment on his positive test. “We can’t make any comment as we have not even been notified as yet,” said team spokesperson Cuan Walker.

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