Drug-free weighs Mamabolo case

THE SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport will meet its legal team over the next few days to study the decision of an independent disciplinary committee that cleared ultra-marathoner Ludwick Mamabolo of a doping offence.

After a marathon hearing, Mamabolo was cleared on Tuesday, which means he is confirmed as the 2012 Comrades Marathon winner. But he was provisionally stripped of the title and denied access to the winner's prize money of R300000 when he was told he had tested positive for methylhexaneamine.

Methylhexaneamine is a nasal decongestant available in many over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, but it is regarded by anti-doping agencies as a stimulant because it increases heart rate and blood pressure, sending more blood to the areas of the body that need it.

On June 19, two weeks after the race, Mamabolo was suspended from taking part in all athletics activities until the matter was resolved. Although his B sample was tested and it too had traces of the stimulant, an independent panel found too many irregularities in the testing procedure to uphold a ban.

Institute chief executive Khalid Galant yesterday told Sowetan the anti-doping body would decide after meeting its lawyers whether to accept or appeal against the outcome.

"The judgment is quite lengthy (60 pages), I will meet our legal team in the next few days to study it. We have three weeks to appeal the decision."

Mamabolo was on cloud nine yesterday: "I have always maintained that I was innocent and justice will prevail one day. I can focus on my athletics career now that I have my good name back. Athletics is my career, I support my family using the money I get from running.

"A big thank you to all the people who supported me from day one, and my lawyers Werksmans Attorneys, who took the matter up pro bono.

"It has been frustrating, but things changed in February when I obtained an interdict to resume my athletics career while the hearing continued to drag on.

"What a relief, I will now be able to sleep like any other person," said Mamabolo, who will compete in the Nguni Grill 28km road race in Polokwane on Saturday. "While the case was going on, I never stopped training for this year's Comrades Marathon (on June 2). My aim is to win it (again)."

Commenting on the outcome of the case, Werkmans Attorneys director David Hertz said: "We are very pleased with the ruling. An innocent athlete has his livelihood back and is free to compete again.

"There were far too many irregularities in the testing process and we are certain this is the right result for him and sport."