No premature celebrations for Mthembu
South African distance runner Bongmusa Mthembu is not yet celebrating a possible promotion to Comrades Marathon champion.
Mthembu, who finished second in the 89km ultra-marathon in Durban on June 3, will be declared the winner of the race if Ludwick Mamabolo, who has been accused of doping, is stripped of the title.
“I have been told that he [Mamabolo] is making an appeal,” Mthembu said on Wednesday.
“We will wait to see what the second test reveals, but I don’t think it’s right for me to comment at this stage.” Mamabolo tested positive for methylhexaneamine, the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) said in a statement on Tuesday.
He was expected to request that his B-sample be tested.
SAIDS chief executive Kahild Galant said on Tuesday that another unnamed athlete had tested positive for high testosterone levels.
Mthembu confirmed that none of this year’s gold medallists — the top 10 men and women — would receive prize money or medals until the race organisers had obtained the results of their doping tests.
“We have not received anything yet,” Mthembu said.
“No money, no medals. We are still waiting for everything.” Mthembu, who is set to earn R145,000 for finishing second, will instead receive the R300,000 winner’s cheque if Mamabolo is disqualified.
Further down the field, veteran Comrades runner and former winner Fusi Nhlapo, who finished 11th, will earn his 10th gold medal if Mamabolo is stripped of the title.
Mamabolo had denied using a banned substance, 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.” The newspaper quoted 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,” Galant said.
“It is starting to become [prevalent] in sports supplements and certain energy drinks.” Athletics SA (ASA) on Wednesday said it had noted SAIDS’s findings on Mamabolo, and that he was innocent until proven otherwise. “We also note that Mr Mamabolo has not appeared before a tribunal or had a chance to present his case,” ASA said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the case has attracted widespread media attention and comments by members of the public, with much of it assuming guilt on the part of the athlete.
“It has to be borne in mind that it is a basic principle of South African law, enshrined in the Constitution, that everyone has the right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in a fair public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal or forum.”