Comrades Double Record Holder – Shvetsov – Named As Drug Supplier
‘How can anyone include Leonids good name to doping?’ asks Ray de Vries in a media release put out by the local agent as spokesman for two time Comrades winner, Russian Leonid Shvetsov, who this week was alleged to be both a supplier and user of banned performance enhancing substances since the mid 1990’s.
De Vries went on to say that he had been in contact with Shvetsov in Russia. “I have advised Leonid to take legal opinion as his future career has been compromised by unfounded rumours. We have asked the athlete involved to explain his actions” said de Vries.
From a speculative viewpoint it would seem the weight of opinion is against de Vries standpoint.
Britain’s Peter Whitehead, Canadian Bruce Raymar, and ex-South African and 1993 world marathon champion Mark Plaatjies are among the top international athletes to have supported the contentions made by Belgian born Eddy Hellebuycks who was central figure in the elite training group in Albuquerque during the build up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Others in that group included south Africans Gert Thys and Joshua Thugwane who went on to win the Olympic Gold medal in the Georgia city.
Thys, who won the Cape Town city marathon in September and was second in Beijing last year, has only just returned to the sport having completed a two year drug ban.
De Vries also said that that some well- known athletes, including a well-known South African Comrades winner who tested positive, have stayed at the training camp.
Plaatjies said “Everybody in the sport knew about Leonid. On the circuit, he always had the reputation as a doper. That’s what Leonid did.”
Whitehead didn’t mince his words “Leonid wasn’t clean, and never had been in my book. His times in training didn’t come close to matching up with his times in races.”
Raymer’s statement appears damning in the detail. “Leonid quite openly kept a stockpile of EPO in his refrigerator, behind the milk and orange juice,” reported the Canadian. “He approached me with the offer to sell me some EPO. He told me how easy it was to inject. He quoted me a price for one cycle—$400. I told him no thanks, and he came back to me with an offer of $350. He came back to me several times, reducing the price to $300. It was kind of bizarre. Leonid is a big, menacing guy. I almost wanted to buy some EPO just to get him off my back.”
When Raymer continued to decline Shvetsov’s sales pitch for EPO, he says, the Russian then offered to sell him the anabolic agent clenbuterol, which is also on the list of banned substances. “Leonid was pretty brash about drugs,” Raymer continues. “His room was like a pharmacy full of banned drugs. Besides the EPO and clenbuterol, I also saw Winstrol [the brand name for the anabolic steroid stanozolol] and Anavar [the brand name for the steroid oxandrolone].”
Hellebuycks who was also banned for substance abuse initiated the exposure during an interview for an American running magazine which was published in mid October.
In the statement released by Ray de Vries agency, Shvetsov, dismissed claims that he has been involved in distributing banned substances to fellow athletes.
“I chatted to Leonid in Russia today and he is very upset that a fellow athlete could even suggest that he was in any way connected to the taking of illicit substances by athletes” said de Vries claiming to be the Russian’s spokesman.
“Leonid is an Olympian and has won marathons and ultra marathons worldwide; he has won Comrades Marathon twice and placed a number of times. He has a number of race records around the world. He has been tested 50 times or more and has never been tested positive. Now an athlete who has admitted to doping names Leonid as the bad guy – what a load of crap…..” wrote de Vries in his statement.
“This makes a mockery of drug tests at our Comrades Marathon – he has been tested every time and has never been tested positive.”
At the time of writing there had been no official word from World Anti Doping Association WADA and so it would appear that Shvetsov, who retired from competition in 2009, is unlikely to be charged or face penalty.
Without instruction from the federation or WADA it is unlikely that any will take action for an event that took place in 2009 or before.
“The association is aware of the allegations against Leonid Shvetsov,” said General Manager Gary Boshoff. “these allegations of the use of banned substance are very disconcerting, but we will not be making any comment until conclusive evidence is produced.”
Comrades were amongst the first road races in the country to pilot and implement drug testing and commenced this in the late 1980’s. Currently they contract the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport to test the top ten men and women, and a random selection of elite runners.
“As an affiliate of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) and Athletics South Africa (ASA), the CMA fully subscribes to the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) and World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) testing protocol for performance enhancing drugs and banned substances,” continued Boshoff.