LES FABER: Comrades winner doped or dopey?
On 3 June 2012, South Africans celebrated Ludwick Mamabolo's fantastic Comrades Marathon win - becoming the first South African to win the 89km race in seven years.
Only 16 days later the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport announced the athlete had been tested for the presence of the drug Methylhexaneamine, a banned substance.
Mamabolo is an experienced athlete. I first met him about ten years ago, after he won the 42km Pick n Pay Marathon in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. At that time, while patiently waiting for prize giving, we sat together and chatted. Ludwick mentioned that he dreamed he would one day win the Comrades Marathon and he was in no rush to do so. He agreed that it would be a process.
This is only the second time that allegations of illegal use of drugs, has happened in this great marathon.
Charl Mattheus was stripped of his Comrades title in 1992 after testing positive for a banned substance, but came back five years later to win the race.
35-year-old Ludwick Mamabolo is a BCom graduate. He has just two exams to pass to qualify as a chartered accountant. The man is no fool. Would he deliberately use banned substances and cheat to secure line honours? From my point of view, no, I'm sure he wouldn't.
It is an athlete's responsibility to make sure that whatever substances they consume do not contravene doping regulations. Ignorance is no excuse. Athletes and coaches are constantly reminded of this.
According to the Comrades Marathon Association, it may still take a further 4 weeks before the final decision will be known.
If Mamabolo is stripped of his title and is banned from several events, South African runner Bongmusa Mthembu, who was placed second, will be elevated to winner and will collect R300 000.00.
We have to know the real winner in this case - the REAL winner.
Ludwick Mamabolo is the ideal candidate, but drug-free sport must be the REAL winner!
Les Faber is a freelance Eyewitness News journalist.
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