Beijing - Hendrick Ramaala blames the taking of a blood sample for a drugs test for his failure in the Olympic Games marathon here on Sunday.
Ramaala finished in 44th place in a time of 2 hours 22 minutes and 43 seconds.
"It hurt when the samples were taken," he said afterwards. "My body felt empty during the race."
The other South African in the marathon, Norman Dlomo, went through the same procedure and finished 53rd in 2:24:28.
Dr Shuaib Manjra, medical chief of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, says it is unlikely that the taking of blood samples was the reason for their disappointing performances.
"Only five to ten millilitres of blood is taken for a drugs test," Manjra said. "I do not believe it had a negative influence on the performances of our marathon athletes. In any case, all marathon runners are tested.
Manjra feels it was a mistake for the two SA runners to arrive in Beijing only three days before the event. There was not sufficient time for them to acclimatise, he says.
Had to look for his energy drink
"The marathon runners did their own thing and decided to fly straight to Beijing. I feel that was a big mistake because three or four days are not enough (to adjust). Hendrick is clever; he should have known better."
Kenya's Samuel Wanjiru won the gold medal in an Olympic record of 2:06:32. Carlos Lopes of Portugal had set the previous record of 2:09:21 in Los Angeles in 1984.
Jaouad Gharib of Morocco won the silver medal in 2:07:16 and Ethiopia's Tsegay Kebede was third in 2:10:00, followed by his countryman Deriba Merga in 2:10:21 and another Kenyan, Martin Lel, in 2:10:24
Ramaala was among the frontrunners early on but said his mouth had felt dry after about 5km and he had to look for his energy drink on the refreshments table.
"By mistake, I took someone else's bottle. I lost precious time, because I had to take it back.
"When I looked up again the other runners were far ahead of me and I started to panic. They ran at less than three minutes per kilometre. To run a 2:06 in this heat is unbelievable."
Dlomo also did not expect such a fast time. "These days you have no chance if you can't run faster than 2:10," he said.