Durban – KwaZulu-Natal Athletics (KZNA) says the pressure to complete the race and having the most finishes could be the main motivation that leads to cheating in the Comrades Marathon.
KZNA vice-president Mandla Mngomezulu was commenting after the completion of initial investigations into misdemeanours and cheating in this year’s race that may lead to nine runners being disqualified from this year’s event.
KZNA announced yesterday that it had completed initial investigations into alleged cheating and the implicated athletes were being sent official communication and would be given seven days to respond to the KZNA’s notification.
Mngomezulu said should the athletes dispute the findings, KZNA would undertake a formal disciplinary hearing.
“The majority of misdemeanours relate to athletes not running the entire 90km course, but also allowing other athletes to run with their race bibs, and providing incorrect qualification information. Some athletes are charged with multiple offences, some of which originated in qualification or other events, and will be disciplined on each offence.”
Disciplinary measures include being removed from the 2022 Comrades Marathon Results, a period of suspension from all athletics events, and forfeiture of previous events where they have been found to have breached athletics rules.
The runners will be required to return the 2022 Comrades Marathon medals. While the identities of the nine runners were not disclosed, Mngomezulu confirmed that the runners being investigated were not elite or top runners and were all local runners.
He said each athlete would be reported to their province and their club, both of which had the right to apply additional disciplinary measures.
The Comrades Marathon Association will have the right to prohibit these athletes from entering and running the marathon for a number of years.
Mngomezulu said with the Comrades being an esteemed race, many runners may want to cheat to keep up and stay on the roll of being a “Comrades finisher”, while others want to reach 10 finishes.
“There are many perks that come with receiving your green number, which you only get after you complete 10 races. Most athletes look forward to that and any unexpected circumstances like injury or illness could prevent them from reaching their goal and lead them to finding other means of tackling the race.”
Mngomezulu said there were always “chancers”, but this year’s number was higher than usual.
“Cheating doesn’t only affect the integrity of the sport but it causes the race to lose out on many sponsors and ultimately affects people’s livelihoods.”
KZNA president Steve Mkasi said they wanted to send a clear message to athletes to desist from cheating.
“These investigations are in line with us standing up for the rules of the sport and not condoning cheating in any form. The charges relate not simply to the Comrades Race, but to the information provided at time of entry, and qualification.”
The KZN Department of Sport, Arts and Culture commended the KZNA for its swift attendance to the allegations.
“Cheating has no place in sport and it is unsportsmanlike for any athlete to partake in mischief that often alters the result and robs the fans of a fair sporting experience. The KZNA is an independent body whose abilities and expertise we trust, we wish to support a call to root out corruption and fraudulent activities by those athletes who create a bad name for others,” said department spokesperson Nathi Olifant.