Cape Town - The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) has issued a powerful warning to potential cheats at this year’s Comrades Marathon. The 91st edition of the iconic race will be hosted on Sunday, May 29, 2016.
CMA General Manager, Chris Fisher has issued a cautionary notice to such runners. He says the issue has been brought to the CMA’s attention through allegations raised by a growing number of concerned runners.
Fisher says, ‘We had no option but to raise our concerns with KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) who have agreed to partner with us in putting a stop to this unsportsmanlike conduct.’ Fisher has welcomed the joint initiative with KZNA. The two organisations will collaborate and make use of additional technologies to highlight irregularities.
Fisher says that race officials, marshals, volunteers and nearly twenty thousand runners will all be encouraged to be on the lookout to expose any cheats this year.
He says, “We understand that this is a tough and demanding race that requires a lot of training and hard work. It is for this reason that the integrity of those runners who honourably complete the Comrades Marathon needs to be safeguarded.’ KZNA will also be deploying additional officials to the route.
Allegations against cheating runners stem from complaints from other athletes with some running clubs going as far as to supply the CMA with individuals’ names. Runners are requested to be on the lookout for those athletes who transgress the rules.
Such transgressions vary from not running the full route distance, running with another entrant’s race number, supplying false information eg: qualification race details as part of their entry or displaying other forms of unethical and unsportsmanlike conduct.
To this end, Fisher says that officials will also be on the lookout for the so-called ‘park and ride gang’ who drive part of the route and run the rest. “If you don’t cross all of the mats, we will want to know why.”
Fisher concludes, “This year, thanks to the tip-offs, we have some names which we will watch carefully. If we catch them and they are found guilty, we will name and shame them.” Furthermore, technical officials will once again be looking out for suspicious split times in uncovering cheating runners.
Finally, the CMA and KZNA reserve the right to request that the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) implement blood tests as opposed to urine tests, where deemed necessary.
Fisher believes the above measures to be in the best interest of both runners and the sport of ultra-marathon running.