Pietermaritzburg’s Bongmusa Mthembu looks set to be promoted into third place in the 85th Comrades Marathon following a positive drug test against Sergio Motsoeneng.
An announcement from the Nedbank Team management celebrating the promotion of eleventh placed Peter Muthubi into the top ten stated that they had been informed that Motsoeneng had tested positive for an illegal substance in his post race drug test and will be disqualified from the results.
At the time of writing no formal announcement has been received from Athletics South Africa Assistant Administrator, Richard Stander, but Comrades Marathon acknowledged they were aware of the situation and were awaiting the documentation.
Mthembu, who was fourth across the line will be the first runner to be moved up with everyone following him also benefiting from an upward shift of one position.
27 year old Mthembu was the first KZN runner to finish the race where he added his second gold medal to the seventh place he earned in 2009.
The drug test may contribute to explaining the amazing performance of Motsoeneng who took one hour 41 minutes to reach Camperdown where he was still outside the top 50. By half way he had moved up to 36th position then climbed to twelfth by Winston Park (58km), entered the top ten before Cowies and finished in a remarkable third only 29 seconds behind the first novice and second placed Ludwick Mamabolo from the Mr Price club. This gave Motsoeneng the fastest and most prolonged charge amongst the elite runners and one of the greatest negative splits in the race.
The Free Stater who was running in the colours of the Discovery Club is no stranger to cheating having been banned from the sport for five years in 1999 when he and his twin brother Arnold relayed their way down the Comrades route once again into a gold medal position, from where they were subsequently disqualified.
Had it not been for wearing different coloured watches the twins may well have gone undetected. However the Comrades Marathon and athletic officials have become more vigilant over the years with a local official saying that around a dozen runners in the mid and back pack have or will be disqualified for cheating.
Some of the attempts include; runners who run only the first and last sections of the route, a runner wearing two chips in order to gain an additional finish for his father in law and runners who illegally passed on their number and chip to someone else. Such is the prestige of the Comrades finish that although television, photographs and technology are used to track all runners, many of the investigations are initiated or confirmed by fellow club runners or family.
The top ten from Comrades 2010 will become: 1 Stephen Muzhingi ZIM F1 2 Ludwick Mamabola MrP (novice) 3 Bongmusa Mthembu MrP (KZN) 4 Fanie Matshipa Toyota 5 Fusi Nhlapo MrP 6 Claude Moshiywa MrP 7 Petros Sosibo MrP (40), 8 Peter Molapo Nedbank 9 Leboko Noto LES 10 Peter Muthubi Nedbank