Ultra-distance runner Joseph Mphuthi will retain his gold medal and prize money from last year’s Comrades Marathon, despite competing while under provisional suspension.
Mphuthi was one of two athletes who faced disqualification and sanctions for doping-related offences after the 2015 edition of the 89km race in KwaZulu-Natal.
The veteran athlete had returned an adverse analytical finding for the anobolic steroid nandrolone following his second-place finish at the 50km Loskop ultra-marathon in 2014, and his temporary sanction had not been lifted when he took sixth place at Comrades.
After facing a hearing, however, Mphuthi was cleared by the panel to keep his gold medal and R30 000 cash incentive.
The SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids) appealed the decision, and while the appeal was upheld and Mphuthi received a two-year ban for the doping offence, the beginning of his suspension was extended by 15 months due to an apparent technical issue.
“The start of the sanction is now from 8 July 2015 instead of 12 April 2014,” said Saids chief executive Khalid Galant.
It was unclear why Mphuthi, a member of the Sibanya Gold Beatrix Mine Athletic Club, had been given a lengthy grace period by the appeal panel and allowed to compete under suspension, denying 12th-placed Ben Matiso a gold medal and prize money for 10th position.
In November last year, ninth-placed Sandile Ngunuza was disqualified from the race after he was found guilty on doping charges.
Ngunuza’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ samples tested positive for the banned stimulants oxilofrine and methylhexanamine, and he was handed a two-year sanction.
Thuso Masiea was bumped up to ninth position in the official results, Russian Vasily Larkin climbed to 10th spot and Matiso was promoted to 11th.