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The current Comrades Marathon champion, Ludwick Mamabolo, says he will take part in the ultra marathon again this year, despite fighting a doping charge which could see him banned from all sport for two years.
“Yes, I will be running. Until my case is over I am allowed to run,” Mamabolo said yesterday.
It was reported in City Press at the weekend that his temporary suspension had been lifted by the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids).
The institute’s chief executive officer, Khalid Galant, said the case against Mamabolo would be finalised by the end of April, a month before the Durban-to-Pietermaritzburg race.
The athlete’s legal team was “cautiously optimistic” that it would still prove his innocence.
Trevor Boswell, of Werksmans Attorneys, who are handling Mamabolo’s defence, said his participation in Comrades would depend on the outcome of the hearing.
However, even a guilty verdict could see him compete if the sentence handed down was less than the duration of the six-month ban he had already served.
Athletics South Africa president James Evans said he was aware of the lifting of the suspension and would not appeal.
Comrades race director Johan van Staden said if Mamabolo’s ban was still lifted on the race day, he would be allowed to compete.
“We will be guided by Saids. If they say he can run, we will allow him to,” he said. “It is a very difficult situation; we can’t let emotions get involved.”
Having tested positive for methylhexaneamine (MHA), days after winning his gold medal last year, the Limpopo athlete was placed on a temporary suspension while hearings were under way.
After his ban was lifted, Mamabolo re-entered the road racing scene.
He competed in the Werda Toyota Mountain half-marathon in Limpopo on February 9, winning the race. This was followed by a second-place finish in the “Potties 4-in-1” 21km race held in Potgietersrus on Saturday.
“I am back on the road,” he said, adding that he was in full training. “It is going well; I am in good shape.”
Galant said the lifting of the ban was done in compliance with the institute’s disciplinary code, and because MHA was a stimulant, and not a steroid, the runner was able to apply for entry back into competition.
He said if Mamabolo chose to take part in races during this time, but was later found guilty of taking the banned stimulant, he would be stripped of his results and prize money.
“It is a risk he takes,” Galant said. - The Mercury