Doping Tests Hurting South African Ultras

Ludwick Mamabolo is one of the ultra runners found to have doped. Photo: Supersport

Science is outing the alleged cheaters. 

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Three positive drug tests have been revealed involving athletes who placed in the top-10 in South Africa’s two major ultramarathons, Comrades and the Old Mutual Two Oceans.

In the biggest shock, both Comrades winner Ludwick Mamabolo’s samples taken after the race on June 3 showed traces of methylhexaneamine, a drug commonly found in some training supplements and often used as a nasal decongestant. Mamabolo’s victory in the race over 89.28K between Pietermaritzburg and Durban made him the first South African winner of the world’s largest ultramarathon since 2005.

Earlier, Lucas Nonyana, who finished eighth in the Two Oceans 56K race over Easter, had been banned for one month for using the same substance. This ban expired on June 17. Nonyana’s result has been annulled, which means that all the runners behind him moved up one position and Moeketsi Mosuhli (LES), who was eleventh in 3:13:07, has been awarded the last gold medal given to top-10 finishers.

Mosuhli’s compatriot Lephetesang Adoro, who was seventh in the Comrades, tested positive for both the corticosteroid prednisone and a high concentration of testosterone. After the initial test in South Africa, his sample was sent to Germany for further testing.

According to Khalid Galant of the S.A. Insitute for Drug-Free Sport, a carbon isotope ratio mass spectrometry (CIRMS) test was conducted in Cologne and the investigation revealed the test result “was due to an anti-doping rule violation” and not to endogenous production of the substance by the athlete’s body.

Adoro’s case has been passed on to the Lesotho sports authorities. In the past hearings involving Lesotho athletes were conducted by the South African authorities and a decision about this case is still awaited.

Mamabolo, 35, was second in the last “down” run of the Comrades two years ago and placed seventh in 2011. He won this year’s race in 5:31:03, the slowest winning time since 1995. This came after he had also finished 24th in the Two Oceans.

Mambolo’s hearing will be held on September 18. If both he and Adoro are found guilty, the last two gold medals will go to former winner Fusi Nhlapo (who was eleventh in 5:40:32) and Godfrey Sesenyamotse (twelfth in 5:40:51).

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