SAIDS CEO Khalid Galant said the first South African athlete to win the Comrades in seven years was tested after he completed the Comrades on June 3 as per the normal doping control procedure for athletic events.
This means the 35-year-old Limpopo athlete, who finished in seventh position 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 said banned stimulants like methylhexaneamine gave athletes a heightened sense of awareness, energy and euphoria and could mask fatigue levels in a race such as the Comrades.
At the conclusion of the 2012 Comrades marathon, SAIDS conducted 20 doping control tests, which included the top 10 finishers in both the men and women categories.
Galant further said 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 said.
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 four weeks.
Samples taken at the Comrades marathon 2012 were also analysed for EPO, a banned substance that enhances the production of oxygen by the blood.
According to Galant, EPO is often used by endurance athletes to boost performance. None of the Comrades runners that were tested returned a positive test for EPO.
He said a hearing date would be set for an independent tribunal to hear the charge against Mamabolo, adding that the athlete would be afforded an opportunity to defend himself against the charge of doping.
With regard to the next steps, Galant said Mamabolo has the option to have his B-sample tested to ascertain a confirmation of the A-sample result.
“The B-sample is a 30ml sample of the original sample of the athlete. 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,” he said.
Galant said due to the high prestige and prize money associated with Comrades, the race has always been on the SAIDS testing calendar.