The Okkert Brits doping saga took a new turn during the fourth leg of the Absa Series in Stellenbosch on Saturday night, adding credence to the athlete's claims of innocence, or at least ignorance.
Sources told the Sunday Argus that the substance for which the Stellenbosch star tested positive this week was not on the list of illegal performance-enhancers as published by the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (Nocsa) in 2000.
Brits's positive result was confirmed on Thursday after traces of the banned stimulant Ephedrine were found in a urine sample taken from him after he had won his event with a world-class clearance of 5.70 metres during the Absa Series meeting in Potchefstroom on January 31.
The 29-year-old pleaded "inadvertent doping", claiming he did not know that Ephedrine was in the energy supplements he was taking. As the substance is merely a stimulant and not a steroid, and as this was the athlete's first doping offence, he escaped with a stern warning.
But, in typically gutsy fashion, last year's Commonwealth Games champion put the controversy behind him last night, in the best way he knew how - by winning again.
"I've had a sleepless week and it took everything I had in me to get myself up for this meeting," he admitted after clearing a mediocre height of 5.45m with his third and final attempt.
"It was important for me to come here and perform for the (hometown) fans, and it was important for me to at least post a height," he added.
"Now I want to close this sad chapter of my life and career and look forward."
Brits's next appearance will be indoors in Europe as he tunes up for the world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, in a month's time.
Hendrick Ramaala, tuning up for the forthcoming defence of his title in a 10km road race in Puerto Rico, was the other star performer during a somewhat low-key meeting, hampered by heavy showers midway through, as he ran away from a quality 5 000m field to win in 13:38.32.
In other highlights, women's world high jump champion Hestrie Cloete continued to impress with a first-time clearance at a winning height of 1.93m; former national champion Mathew Quinn burst out of a frustrating early-season slump by powering to a men's sprint double; Commonwealth Games high hurdles champion Shaun Bownes mastered a soaked track by scorching to victory in a superb time of 13.52 seconds and Rene Kalmer continued her great form with victory over 1 500m.
Another local hero, Marcus la Grange, proved without doubt that he is South Africa's No 1 over 400 metres with a fine time of 45.71sec, also in the wet.