He did it thanks to a technicality.
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
After more than 10 months of legal wrangling, 2012 Comrades winner Ludwick Mamabolo has been cleared on a technical point on a charge of using the banned substance methylhexaneamine in the world’s biggest ultramarathon on June 3 last year. Both Mamabolo’s “A” and “B” samples showed the presence of the illegal drug, but according to his lawyer, “there was a system failure in the Comrades doping process.”
In an unprecedented move, Mamabolo was given permission earlier this year by the South African Institute of Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) to compete while awaiting the outcome of the legal proceedings. In March, SAIDS announced that Mamabolo’s suspension “was provisionally lifted on condition that the matter be concluded before the end of April 2013.”
Mamabolo then appeared in the Pick ‘n Pay Half Marathon in March, finishing 10th, and the Springs Striders 32km, where he was third. In the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon over Easter he could do no better than 55th, more than 26 minutes behind the winner.
Mamabolo’s lawyer, Trevor Boswell, said the runner had been found not guilty in a 60-page judgement. “They found there was a system failure in the Comrades doping process. We identified 14 or 15 irregularities in the sample process.”
Khalid Galant, CEO of SAIDS, sounded a word of warning, though. “We have three weeks in which to review the decision of the tribunal and see whether there are grounds for an appeal. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) also has the right to appeal [as do the] International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics South Africa (ASA).”
Mamabolo, who plans to defend his title in this year’s Comrades on June 2, said he was “delighted that I now have my good name and livelihood back. I rely on running to support my family.”
Of course, it is certainly possible that an appeal against Mamabolo’s clearance could be upheld (a point that will not be reached until after the 2013 Comrades), in which case the Comrades will have to nullify two results for him, while he would also lose the performances achieved so far this year.