Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
27 Nov 2015
1:53 pm

Banned Ngunuza loses Comrades gold

Wesley Botton

Ultra-distance runner Sandile Ngunuza has been stripped of his Comrades Marathon gold medal after being slapped with a two-year doping ban.

Bystanders cheer on runners as they partake in the 89th Comrades Marathon, 01 June 2014, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. The annual ultra-marathon attracted over 18,000 runners from around the world to partake in the 89km race. Picture: Alaister Russell

The 32-year-old athlete, who finished ninth in the 87km ‘up’ run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in May, faced a hearing after his ‘A’ and ‘B’ samples tested positive for the banned stimulants oxilofrine and methylhexanamine.

“Ngununza ­has been sanctioned for two years,” Khalid Galant, chief executive of the SA Institute for Drug Free Sport (Saids) confirmed on Friday.
Russian Vasily Larkin, who ended 11th, was expected to be bumped to 10th place and receive a gold medal.

This is the second year in a row an SA athlete has been stripped of Comrades gold. Martinique Potgieter was also banned for two years after testing positive for a diuretic and a stimulant following her ninth-place finish in the women’s race last season.

Meanwhile, Saids confirmed another Comrades gold medallist had been cleared by an independent tribunal despite competing while under provisional suspension.

Veteran athlete Joseph Mphuthi, who finished sixth at the annual ultra-distance event, tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone after taking second place at the 50km Loskop ultra-marathon last year.

His temporary sanction had not been lifted when he competed at Comrades. Saids, however, rejected the findings of Mphuthi’s hearing and filed an appeal against the decision, in an attempt to have him removed from the official results.

“The tribunal ruled he could keep his Comrades medal but Saids appealed,” Galant said.

“The appeal is set down for February 11, 2016.”