Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo has tested positive for drugs - the second such finding in the event's history - the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS) said on Tuesday.
Mamabolo, who won the 89km ultra-marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban on June 3, tested positive for methylhexaneamine, SAIDS said in a statement.
“As per the protocol for testosterone cases, we have to rule out endogenous production (manufactured in the body ) of testosterone by the athlete's body and any medical abnormality,” said SAIDS chief executive Khalid Galant.
“The sample was sent for further analysis to the doping control laboratory in Cologne, Germany.
“SAIDS will be able to determine if indeed the athlete tested positive for testosterone after the Cologne laboratory returns the result in approximately four weeks.”
Mamabolo was the first South African to win the annual ultra-marathon since Sipho Ngomane in 2005.
Galant said banned stimulants like methylhexaneamine gave athletes a heightened sense of awareness, energy, and euphoria, and could mask fatigue levels in long-distance races such as the Comrades.
According to SAIDS, Mamabolo could face a two-year ban and be stripped of his title if found guilty by an independent tribunal.
If Mamabolo is stripped of the title, another South African, Bongmusa Mthembu, who finished second, will replace him as this year's winner.
SAIDS said it conducted a number of doping control tests after this year's race.
Among those tested were the top 10 finishers in the men's and women's categories.
According to Galant, another runner also tested positive for a high testosterone level.
Mamabolo had the option to have his B-sample tested.
“The B-sample is a 30 millilitre sample of the original sample of the athlete,” Galant said.
“The sample is divided into A and B samples at the time of the test being performed.
“The two samples are independently sealed at this stage.
“(The) B-sample is only opened at the request of the athlete.
“He may provide a witness to the opening of the B-sample to ensure that it has not been tampered with.”
Charl Mattheus was stripped of the Comrades title in 1992 after testing positive for a banned substance. His fellow South African Jetman Msuthu, who finished second, was awarded the title.
Mattheus maintained that he unwittingly took medicine containing a banned substance in the build-up to the race.
He returned to win the Comrades title in 1997.
Another South African, Sergio Motsoeneng, tested positive after he finished third in the 2010 race.
Athletics SA president James Evans would not comment on Mamabolo's positive test.
“We can't comment until SAIDS has finished its investigation,” Evans said.
The Comrades Marathon Association was unavailable for comment, according to the receptionist, as its entire staff complement was in a meeting. - Sapa