The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) confirmed today that the 2012 Comrades winner, Ludwick Mamabolo, has tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine and could face a two year ban and be stripped of his title if found guilty by an independent tribunal.

According to SAIDS CEO, Khalid Galant, Mamabolo, the first South African athlete to win the Comrades in seven years, was tested after he completed the Comrades on 3 June 2012, as per the normal doping control procedure for athletic events.

This means the 35-year-old athlete, who came seventh last year and second in 2010, could face a sanction ranging from a warning to a two year ban should the independent tribunal find him guilty. Galant says that banned stimulants like methylhexaneamine give the athlete a heightened sense of awareness, energy and euphoria and can mask fatigue levels in a race such as the Comrades.

At the conclusion of the Comrades 2012, SAIDS conducted 20 doping control tests, which included the top 10 finishers in the men and women’s categories.

Galant reports that an additional runner also tested positive for a high testosterone level. “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,” he explains. “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 4 weeks.”

Samples taken at the Comrades 2012 were also analyzed for EPO, a banned substance that enhances the production of oxygen by the blood. “EPO is often used by endurance athletes to boost performance. None of the Comrades runners that we tested, returned a positive test for EPO,” says Galant.

He says that a hearing date will be set for an independent tribunal to hear the charge against Ludwick Mamabolo. “The athlete will be afforded the opportunity to defend himself against the charge of doping,” he adds.

With regards to next steps, Galant says that Mamabolo has the option to have his B-sample tested to ascertain a confirmation of A-sample result. “The B-sample is a 30ml sample of the original sample of the athlete,” he says. “The sample is divided into A and B sample at the time of the test being performed. The two samples are independently sealed at this stage. 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.”

Galant says that due to the high prestige and prize money associated with Comrades, the race has always been on the SAIDS testing calendar. “Previously, a Comrades winner in 1992, Charl Mattheus tested positive for a stimulant and in 2010 Sergio Motsoeneng a top ten finisher, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone,” he adds.