Mamabolo to defend himself at inquiry

Comrades winner Ludwick Mamabolo failed a doping test and faces being stripped of the title.

Ludwick Mamabolo won the Comrades in June but failed a doping test and now faces being stripped of the title.

JOHANNESBURG - Comrades runner-up Bongmusa Mthembu said on Wednesday he would not be celebrating a possible bump-up to the number one spot if the initial winner of the race tests positive for a banned substance.

Ludwick Mamabolo won the marathon earlier in June, but failed a doping test and now faces being stripped of the title.

Mamabolo is due to defend himself at an independent inquiry to be held in coming weeks, and could explain the banned substance in his system was ingested by mistake.

Several well-known rugby players have tested positive for Methylhexaneamine, but managed to prove they had no intention to try and boost their performance.

If Mamabolo fails to persuade the inquiry of his innocence, Mthembu will take the champion title and receive double the money he won for second place.

Mthembu was not ready to discuss the possibility yet, because another sample from Mamabolo must be tested.

The athlete is innocent until proven guilty, he added.

Athletics SA said it was a pity so many people have already assumed the worst.

On Tuesday, the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport confirmed that Mamabolo had tested positive for the banned stimulant.

The 35-year-old athlete made the nation proud as the first South African to win the prestigious race in seven years.

"The stimulant is used to enhance your awareness and alertness," the institute's Khalid Galant explained.

"In an endurance race like the Comrades, it will work to your advantage because it can mask your fatigue levels."

He said if the findings are confirmed, Mamabolo's punishment could be a simple warning or a two-year ban and the stripping of his title.