The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon is one of the world’s foremost road running events and “elite competitors and potential podium finishers can therefore expect that drug testing will occur at the event,” warns Khalid Galant, chief executive officer of the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS).
Galant will be more than an interested spectator at the event: he will be taking part in the half marathon on Saturday and flying the flag for SAIDS’s I Play Fair – Say NO! to Doping campaign.
“Those running for I Play Fair promote healthy living and fitness,” he explained. “Our core values are that, at whatever level you compete, your goals are only achieved through hard work and perseverance. There is no magic powder or pill to achieving sports victory.”
So how has his training been going? “I am part of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon Inspiration with the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA). The first four weeks (from eight weeks to race day) of training was really good. I stuck to the programme and was very compliant in adjusting my nutritional needs … I had been eating too many carbs and too much sugar,” Galant revealed.
“I was also motivated by all the tests I underwent as part of the training; nutritional assessment, running biomechanics, VO2 Max and strength tests. The strength training programme, which is similar to CrossFit, has made a notable difference to my running with respect to hill work and injury prevention.”
But Galant’s busy work schedule has interfered with his running in recent weeks: “Unfortunately, the training programme started to go off the rails when I travelled to Europe for work. With the cold, end-of-winter climate there, I struggled to get in some good runs of more than 10km. But I still think I am in decent running shape for the race: I am injury free and hope to make the two hour mark or under for the half marathon.”
“I am a regular distance runner and have done a few half marathons, though I have not yet ventured into full marathons. My running is augmented primarily by surfing and some triathlon training in the summer months.”
Like other endurance events, marathon running is not immune to doping.
Since 2010, a total of 19 marathon runners have tested positive in South Africa for a range of banned substances.
Among SAIDS’s initiatives to combat doping in sport have been:
• developing and implementing a comprehensive drug testing programme for all South Africa’s major sporting codes;
• providing education and information on the dangers and consequences of doping;
• promoting the spirit of sport by encouraging the values of Fair Play;
• collaborating with African and other international anti-doping authorities to ensure that anti-doping regulations are applied equitably when international athletes train and compete on South African soil.
SAIDS’s I Play Fair campaign tackles doping in South African sports and creates awareness around ethics in sport and anti-doping by promoting healthy living and fitness. The campaign was introduced because of the high levels of performance enhancing drug abuses within the South African sporting community, especially school sport.
A number of popular South African sports players have committed to this initiative, including rugby stars such as Bryan Habana, Team Bonitas Cycling Team and swimmers Ryk Neethling and Natalie du Toit.