Top marathoner banned for violating anti-doping rules



MASERU – Lesotho’s seasoned marathoner, Ramolefi Motsiela, has been banned for eight years for tampering with doping control processes.  The 33-year-old long distance runner, was found guilty of tampering with doping control procedures at the Elliot Madeira Marathon, which was held in Umtata, South Africa, in September last year.

Motsieloa won the marathon (42.2 kilometres) in 2:28:35. His suspension started on June 10 and will come to an end on June 10, 2031. According to the Anti-Doping Committee of South Africa, Motsieloa was found guilty of a violation in terms of Article 2.5 of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sports (SAIDS) for tampering or attempted tampering with doping control. 

“The athlete, Ramolefi Paul Motsieloa, is found guilty of a violation in terms of Article 2.5 of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sports ADR for tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control by an athlete or person,” reads part of the judgment of the Anti-Doping Committee of South Africa.

The judgment further reads: “Motsieloa, is suspended for a period of eight years, this being his second ADRV (Anti-Doping Rule Violation).” The Federation of Athletics Lesotho (FAL) Secretary General, Makara Thibinyane, said Motsieloa found himself in trouble after he could not tell his real name at the time the anti-doping test was conducted after the race.

“As we speak, he has not yet been found guilty of using any banned substance but was guilty of tampering with the doping process,” said Thibinyane in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday. “He was found guilty of not telling his real name when he was being tested for doping.” Thibinyane said the anti-doping officials only realised when Motsieloa was called to the podium after winning the marathon that he gave them a false name.

The Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) has confirmed Motsieloa’s suspension. “Pursuant to Article 14.3 read with or in accordance with 14.1.2 of the Lesotho Anti-Doping Rules, the Lesotho National Olympic Committee, herein called a de facto National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO) of Lesotho, makes a public disclosure guided by International Standards for Results Management (ISRM) that Ramolefi Motsieloa (3000m or greater) runner has been suspended for a period of eight years,” reads the LNOC statement on its Facebook page.

This publication has also found out that the runner was indeed found guilty of using methylhexanamine. Methylhexanamine is an indirect sympathomimetic drug that constricts blood vessels and thus has effects on the heart, lungs, and reproductive organs. Since 2006, methylhexanamine has been sold extensively under many names as a stimulant or energy-boosting dietary supplement under the claim that it is similar to certain compounds found in geraniums.

But the safety of the product has been questioned as a number of adverse events and at least five deaths have been associated with methylhexanamine-containing supplements. Methylhexanamine is banned by many sports authorities and governmental agencies. Despite multiple warning letters from the FDA, as of 2019, the stimulant remains available in sports and weight loss supplements.

Motsieloa was suspended for two years, and the suspension ended on January 5, 2017. His suspension followed Sekeke Lesole’s, another Lesotho marathoner, whose ban from competitive athletics ended on April 29.

Lesole was found guilty of using norondrosterone, and like Motsieloa, that was also his second ADRV. Apart from the two, Lesotho’s most decorated female marathoner, ’Mamoroallo Tjoka, and the country’s finest sprinter, Mosito Lehata, are both currently under suspension for doping. Like Motsieloa and Lesole, Tjoka is also on her second ADRV.

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