Comrades winner Mamabolo may face two-year ban

Comrades Marathon winners: Ludwick Mamabolo (centre) , Marko Mambo (left) and Bonmusa Mthembu (Anesh Debiky, Gallo Images)

Comrades Marathon winners: Ludwick Mamabolo (centre) , Marko Mambo (left) and Bonmusa Mthembu (Anesh Debiky, Gallo Images)

The Comrades Marathon Association on Tuesday confirmed Mamabolo tested positive for the methylhexaneamine – a stimulant commonly found in certain training supplements.

“The onus rests with the athlete to prove if they ingested the substance knowingly or overtly,” Dr Shuaib Manjra, chairperson of the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) told the Mail & Guardian.

Mamabolo became the first South African to win the Comrades since 2005, when he won this year’s 89km down run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in 5:31.03.

Mamabolo will now have to face a SAIDS-sanctioned but independent tribunal consisting of an attorney, a sports administrator and medical professional to explain how the substance entered his blood stream.

Methylhexaneamine, often used as a nasal decongestant, is classified as a “specified substance” on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. Any athlete guilty of ingesting the stimulant in preparation or during competition faces varied punishment.

“It falls within a special category of stimulants that could result in either a two-year ban being handed down to the guilty athlete, or a reprimand - depending on extenuating circumstances,” said Manjra.

He would also lose his Comrades title and be forced to pay back all prize monies.

The Comrades Marathon Association said it was “disappointed” and “shocked” at Mamabolo testing positive.

“We have always frowned upon anyone using banned substances, and if this is the case then the law must run its course. However, Ludwick, like anyone else, has the opportunity to explain his actions, so we will not necessarily pronounce judgment until then,” Peter Proctor, chairperson of the Comrades Marathon Association told the M&G.

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Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer

Nickolaus Bauer is the Mail & Guardian's jack of all trades news reporter that chases down stories ranging from politics and sports to big business and social justice. Armed with an iPad, SLR camera, camcorder and dictaphone, he aims to fight ignorance and pessimism through written words, photographs and videos. He believes South Africa could be the greatest country in the world if only her citizens would give her a chance to flourish instead of dwell on the negativity. When he's not begging his sub-editors for an extra twenty minutes after deadline, he's also known to dabble in the occasional poignant column that will leave you mulling around in the depths of your psyche. The quintessential workaholic, you can also catch him doing sports on the weekday breakfast show on SAfm and presenting the SAfm Sports Special over the weekend. Read more from Nickolaus Bauer

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