The Leonid Shvetsov Doping Allegations

I had been away on a three week trek in the Himalayas so on returning home I was keen to catch up on all the news. (If you want to truly lose touch with the World trek at 5000metres altitude on the remote Annapurna/Manaslu route. World War III could start and you would be the last to know) .

I had some catching up to do and since sport is a great passion of mine I wanted to know who had won the Currie Cup and how the Springboks had fared against Ireland.

However all my friends were itching to share the juicy gossip of the “Comrades champ in doping scandal” story.

I have to say my reaction has been one of deep disappointment.

Disappointment, not necessarily with Leonid Shvetsov (who has of course denied the allegations) but for our great race the Comrades marathon.

The Comrades doesn’t deserve this. It is an honorable race which embodies the noble qualities of courage, endurance, and honesty. Yes there have been a few instances of cheating in the past but these have been dealt with efficiently and fairly. These latest allegations threaten to make a mockery of these values and threaten to tar the Comrades with the same reputation as that of the Tour de France (Farce).

The Tour de France ceased being an honest race years ago and is now a fascinating annual bicycle journey through France but an even more fascinating battle between the Tour’s winners, their doctors on the one hand and the doping officials on the other.

If the allegations came from one source it might be possible to label that person an embittered delusional liar but the problem for Leonid Shvetsov is that he has been implicated by several athletes one of whom, Mark Plaatjes, is an ex fellow Witsie and team mate whose running was always as straight and honest and tough as his character.

Supporters of Leonid Shvetsov can protest as vehemently as they like that he has been drug tested at the Comrades and found to be clean, but they miss the point . If the allegations about him are true he should not have been allowed to start the Comrades or indeed any other race after 1996.

Shvetsov needs to have these allegations withdrawn as speedily as possible for his reputation and for that of the Comrades marathon.

If I were Stephen Muzhingi I would be on the phone to Albuquerque immediately. After all, if the allegations are true, then the Down run record should be his 5:23 (2009) and not Shvetsov’s 5:20 (2007) and I believe there was quite an incentive for breaking the record.

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