2012 Comrades winner tests positive for stimulant
Photo ©: greenitweb.co.za
The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) has confirmed that the 2012 Comrades winner, Ludwick Mamabolo, has tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine and could face a two-year ban and be stripped of his title if found guilty by an independent tribunal.
According to SAIDS CEO, Khalid Galant, Mamabolo, the first South African athlete to win the Comrades in seven years, was tested after he completed the Comrades on 3 June 2012, as per the normal doping control procedure for athletic events.
This means the 35-year-old athlete, who came seventh last year and second in 2010, could face a sanction ranging from a warning to a two-year ban should the independent tribunal find him guilty. Galant says that banned stimulants like methylhexaneamine give the athlete a heightened sense of awareness, energy and euphoria and can mask fatigue levels in a race such as the Comrades.
Doping tests conducted on Top 10 finishers
At the conclusion of the Comrades 2012, SAIDS conducted 20 doping control tests, which included the top 10 finishers in the men's and women's categories.
Galant reports that an additional runner also tested positive for a high testosterone level. "As per the protocol for testosterone cases, we have to rule out endogenous production (manufactured in the body) of testosterone by the athlete's body and any medical abnormality," he explains.
"The sample was sent for further analysis to the Doping Control laboratory in Cologne, Germany. SAIDS will be able to determine if indeed the athlete tested positive for testosterone after the Cologne laboratory returns the result in approximately four weeks."
Samples taken at the Comrades 2012 were also analysed for EPO, a banned substance that enhances the production of oxygen by the blood. "EPO is often used by endurance athletes to boost performance. None of the Comrades runners that we tested, returned a positive test for EPO," says Galant.
Hearing date to be set for independent tribunal
He says that a hearing date will be set for an independent tribunal to hear the charge against Ludwick Mamabolo. "The athlete will be afforded the opportunity to defend himself against the charge of doping," he adds.
With regards to next steps, Galant says that Mamabolo has the option to have his B-sample tested to ascertain a confirmation of A-sample result. "The B-sample is a 30ml sample of the original sample of the athlete," he says.
"The sample is divided into A and B samples at the time of the test being performed. The two samples are independently sealed at this stage. B-sample is only opened at the request of the athlete. He may provide a witness to the opening of the B-sample to ensure that it has not been tampered with."
Galant says that due to the high prestige and prize money associated with Comrades, the race has always been on the SAIDS testing calendar. "Previously, a Comrades winner in 1992, Charl Mattheus tested positive for a stimulant and in 2010 Sergio Motsoeneng a top ten finisher, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone," he adds.
Update: Mamabolo denies guilt
Under-fire Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo has denied using a banned substance to win the 89-kilometre race, according to a report on Wednesday.
"I didn't take any banned substances," Mamabolo told the Sowetan newspaper.
"The stuff that I use is what I have normally used throughout the years I have been running Comrades.
"I am confident that I will be found not guilty," said Mamabolo.
If found guilty, he could lose his title and R300,000 prize money.
Mamabolo, who won the 89km ultra-marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban on June 3, tested positive for methylhexaneamine, the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Sowetan quoted SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant as saying it was possible that the substance could have been contained in an energy drink.
"Methylhexaneamine has been one of those ubiquitous substances that some athletes have been testing positive for over the last two years. It is starting to become [prevalent] in sports supplements and certain energy drinks," Galant said.
About the Institute of Drug-Free Sport
Drug-Free Sport is a public entity that promotes participation in sport that is free from the use of prohibited substances or methods intended to artificially enhance performance, thereby rendering impermissible doping practices, which are contrary to the principles of fair play and medical ethics, in the interest of the health and wellbeing of sportspersons.
The institute's efforts include anti-doping strategy in sport; education on drugs in sport; and collaboration with other national anti-doping agencies throughout the world. The Drug-Free Sport Act grants the Institute for Drug-Free Sport statutory drug testing powers and the authority to conduct and enforce a national anti-doping programme.
By virtue of the Institute's legislative ambit, national sports federations are obligated to co-operate with the Institute. For more information go to www.drugfreesport.org.za