Zero tolerance

About 70 antidoping officials will monitor the Comrades Marathon, which gets under way on Saturday

The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) will up its game in Saturday’s Comrades Marathon in the wake of last year’s Ludwick Mamabolo saga.

Saids CEO Khalid Galant told City Press this week that the antidoping structure would “send its best referees” to the 86.96km race from Durban to Pietermaritzburg due to this incident.

The race carries a R300 000 winner’s purse.

“The board decided that we must send our best referees to all big competitions that carry big prize money, such as the Comrades, the Two Oceans and the Cape Epic (cycling),” said Galant, whose organisation has said it would not appeal Mamabolo’s not guilty verdict.

“We have about 70 contracted doping control officials and we used about 40 at last year’s Comrades, with the rest provided by the race organisers from their pool of volunteers.

“We will make sure that they follow the procedural manual and that athletes are informed of their rights (during the test procedure).”

Saids revealed this week that it conducted 20 doping tests at last year’s Comrades, including the top 10 finishers across the men’s and women’s categories.

Winner Mamabolo tested positive for stimulant methylhexaneamine, but his strong legal team from Werksmans Attorneys – who represented him pro bono – argued that Saids’ testing procedure was flawed and that the 37-year-old’s rights were infringed.

As a result, the positive test outcome was nullified.

The Bedfordview runner only received his prize money and medals about three weeks ago after 11 months of arguments between an independent tribunal panel and the sports antidoping controlling body.

Lesotho’s runner, Lephetesang Adoro, who finished seventh, also tested positive for a banned substance, but his case falls under the jurisdiction of the Lesotho Olympic Committee or Lesotho Athletics governing body, which will rule on the matter.

Early this month, Saids also announced that Two Oceans Marathon women’s winner Natalia Volgina had tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid. The Russian faces a lengthy ban from sports should she be found guilty.

Meanwhile, 18 000 runners are expected at the start of the Comrades at 5.30am, among them defending men and women’s champions Mamabolo and Elena Nurgalieva, respectively.

Ten things worth knowing about the Comrades

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