Two Comrades stars banned for doping
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Durban - The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sports has banned two of the top 10 finishers in last year’s Comrades Marathon for doping.
Joseph Mphuthi and Sandile Ngunuza had each received two-year suspensions, Comrades Marathon race director, Rowyn James, said today. Mphuthi and Ngunuza were placed 6th and 9th, respectively, in last year’s men’s race.
They would not be allowed to participate in this year’s marathon or in future marathons, until their suspensions were lifted.
Mphuthi would be allowed to keep his prize money as well as his gold medal but Ngunuza would not be afforded the same privilege, James told the Daily News.
He could not, however, elaborate on the reasoning behind this and said the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) was acting on South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (Saids) directives.
James could not say what drugs the athletes had used but the Daily News’s sister paper, The Star, last year reported that Mphuthi had run the marathon despite having been provisionally suspended after testing positive for the anabolic steroid, nandrolone at the Loskop ultra-marathon in 2014.
Ngunuza had tested positive for the methylhexaneamine and oxilofrine stimulants, with the latter being known for use as an asthma medication and the former has been described as a fat burner by sports websites.
Ngunuza’s club, the Nedbank Running Club, has affirmed its “zero tolerance” stance on drugs and has suspended the athlete.
“The Nedbank Running Club suspend Ngunuza with immediate effect from the club and all their activities after the outcome of the final hearing between Ngunuza and Saids,” said Nick Bester, Nedbank Running Club national manager.
The Free State-based Mphuthi runs for the Sibanye Gold Beatrix Mine Athletic. Neither he nor his running club could be reached for comment at the time of publication.
On the back of the two athletes’ suspensions, CMA general manager, Chris Fisher, issued a cautionary notice to all runners, saying “the issue of alleged cheating (would) be vigorously addressed”.
He also highlighted “other” forms of cheating, including supplying false information and not running the full race distance, and said these would be dealt with by KZN Athletics’ Disciplinary Committee.
The 91st Comrades Marathon, and the 45th down run, will be held on Sunday, May 29.