Johannesburg – Comrades Marathon champion Ludwick Mamabolo has called for the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) to educate athletes on their rights and the correct procedures regarding the post-race testing process.
Mamabolo, 36, was cleared of doping charges last week, after his A and B samples tested positive for methylhexaneamine, with an inquiry committee finding multiple irregularities in the testing process.
Eleven months after winning the annual ultra-marathon in KwaZulu-Natal, Mamabolo received his trophy, gold medal, and R300,000 winner's cheque at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.
“I sacrificed Christmas and nice times with my family in order to (win) this medal, but they call me a drug user,” an emotional Mamabolo, wearing his medal around his neck, said at a media conference on Tuesday.
“Let this be a learning curve – athletes, Athletics SA, and Saids must come together.”
Mamabolo said many distance runners from rural areas were illiterate, and even veteran athletes were not aware of their rights regarding the testing process.
He believed everything should be explained to them in their home languages, rather than in English.
Fusi Nhlapo, who won the Comrades in 2003, had told Mamabolo he was not aware of doping rules and regulations.
“Fusi Nhlapo was surprised. He has been tested many times more than I have, but he did not know his rights,” Mamabolo said.
“Black people – I'm sorry to say it – do not have computers where we can log in.
“We wake up, eat pap, and train. But we have the right to be informed and it's important to us.”
Mamabolo insisted he had been wrongly accused, and it was standard practice for athletes to be handed open bottles of energy drinks at the finish line of races.
“I assure you I'm not a drug addict. I do not smoke and I have not had a drink my whole life,” he said.
“I know athletes who take drugs, they all know each other, but I have been vindicated.”
After becoming the first South African to win the Comrades “down” run since 2005, Mamabolo will line up in Durban next month, in an attempt to become the first local runner to win the “up” run in 21 years.
“When I found out I had tested positive for doping, I increased my training,” he said.
“Everything is going well with training. Don't worry about that. Come June 2, at 5.30am, I will be there, confidently.” – Sapa