Race that attracts desperate cheats

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JUNE 16, 1992 was the first time a runner was stripped of his Comrades Marathon winners’ medal for doping or cheating.

Charl Mattheus reportedly took medicine for a sore throat, which, at that time, was on the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) banned substance list. The substance was later removed from the list as evidence showed it had no performance-enhancing properties.

Mattheus returned to the race in 1997 with an emphatic win.

A year later, Herman Matthee, who finished in the top 10, was reportedly stripped of his medal after video evidence showed he had caught a taxi along the route, reportedly cutting out almost 40km off the 90km race.

In 1999, Zimbabwean brothers Arnold and Sergio Motsoeneng ran the race as a relay, changing shirts in toilet stops, and aided by a car along the way. They were exposed after video footage showed them wearing their watches on different arms.

Sergio returned in 2010 to come third in the race, only to test positive for the banned substance nandrolone.

Joburg runners Andre van der Vyver and his son Willem copped lifetime bans in 2003 after it was discovered Andre was wearing two Championchips, the device used to record splits for competitors as they run over mats along the way. The father and son duo’s times at each split were identical, suggesting they too, were running in relays.

A group of young athletes from a Joburg-based athletics club used false qualifying times so they could run together on the day in 2001.

No women have been banned for doping or cheating.

Seven deaths have been recorded in the 91-year history of the Comrades. – Colleen Dardagan


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