Dop­ing grounds ath­letes

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

The sports min­istry has still not paid some of the ath­letes who won last year’s high Altitude Sum­mer Marathon be­cause of sus­pected dop­ing, the Le­sotho Times has learnt.

The race, which took place in Mokhot­long on 6 De­cem­ber, at­tracted top run­ners from both Le­sotho and out­side the coun­try.

Lebenya Nkoka won the male edi­tion of the race, fol­lowed by his Le­sotho coun­ter­parts Sekeke Lesole and Lehlo­honolo Ralete­bele, re­spec­tively.

‘Mamoroallo Tjoka romped home in the fe­male sec­tion, fol­lowed by com­pa­triot Makam­pong Let­sie, and he­len Keep­hock­ing of Kenya.

The top 10 run­ners in each cat­e­gory were sup­posed to re­ceive var­i­ous amounts but ac­cord­ing to sources privy to the mat­ter, some were yet to be paid as the or­gan­is­ers had to re-ex­am­ine their blood sam­ples, which had tested pos­i­tive for per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs.

Nkoka on Tues­day con­firmed he had not yet re­ceived the M100 000 win­ner’s prize, adding: “The whole sit­u­a­tion is very frus­trat­ing. I have been get­ting dif­fer­ent an­swers as to why the money has not been de­posited into my ac­count as promised.

“At first, the or­gan­is­ers told me that some of the ath­letes had tested pos­i­tive for a banned drug and the blood sam­ples had been sent for re-testing hence the de­lay.

“Later, I was told the de­lay was due to a change in gov­ern­ment, and I would get my money soon.

“At one stage, I was even told the money was be­ing pro­cessed and would be de­posited into my bank ac­count that day, but up to now, noth­ing of the sort has hap­pened.”

Nkoka (31) said it was “very dis­ap­point­ing” to be sent from pil­lar to post each time he en­quired about the money.

“I have been tak­ing part in South African races for a long time now and it doesn’t take three months to process one’s prize money.

You al­ways re­ceive the money on the promised date, but I still don’t know what is hap­pen­ing three months af­ter win­ning the high Altitude Marathon.

“As we speak, I’m on my way to the or­gan­is­ers and I bet I’m go­ing to be told a dif­fer­ent story to the one I got the last time,” he said.

None of the other win­ners were im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

how­ever, the Min­istry of Sports Se­nior In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer, Thethiwe Maraka, con­firmed some of the ath­letes had not yet been paid.

“It’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore they re­ceive the money be­cause it is be­ing pro­cessed,” Maraka said.

Le­sotho Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion Public Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Se­jana­mane Maphathe, re­ferred the Le­sotho Times to the Min­istry of Gen­der, Youth, Sports and Recre­ation “as the race’s or­gan­is­ers”.

can send more ath­letes to sim­i­lar state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties, thereby boost­ing the coun­try’s chances of pro­duc­ing such class-acts.

As some­body who eats and sleeps sport, I’m re­ally hop­ing the new ad­min­is­tra­tion is go­ing to come-up with new ideas of mak­ing this a bet­ter sport­ing na­tion.

Sport­ing codes such as rugby and bas­ket­ball have con­tin­ued to make ma­jor strides de­spite their fi­nan­cial strug­gles and I be­lieve they could be­come even bet­ter with im­proved fa­cil­i­ties and fi­nan­cial sup­port.

This coun­try has ben­e­fit­ted a lot through sport as many of our stars have put the coun­try on the map, so to speak.

We have the likes of ‘Mamoroallo Tjoka, who has won the Soweto Marathon a his­toric seven times and I think it’s very un­for­tu­nate that she has not been hon­oured by our gov­ern­ment, the way she de­serves.

All I’m say­ing is th­ese sport­ing fig­ures can do bet­ter with a lit­tle bit of sup­port and ap­pre­ci­a­tion from their gov­ern­ment the way it hap­pens in other coun­tries.

Ath­letes fight it out in the High Altitude Sum­mer Marathon in Mokhot­long in this file pic­ture.

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