Johannesburg - Comrades Marathon winner Ludwick Mamabolo, who tested positive for a banned substance, insists that he is innocent.
"I have never knowingly or intentionally taken any illegal substances to enhance my performance during my long running career, and this year was no different," Mamabolo said in a statement on Sunday.
"It has always been my dream to win the Comrades and to follow in the footsteps of my uncle, famous track athlete Titus Mamabolo. Winning the race is my greatest triumph. It is the greatest achievement of my life, but it has turned into a nightmare.
"I have not been able to celebrate my win. I don't know what to say to my family because my win has been taken away from me."
Mamabolo, 35, became the first South African to win the 89km ultra-marathon in seven years when he secured the "down" run title in Durban on June 3.
Two weeks later the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport announced his A-sample had tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine. He is still waiting for the result of his B-sample.
Mamabolo confirmed on Sunday he had accepted the offer of legal assistance from law firm Werksmans Attorneys.
"My running achievements have been built on years of hard work on the road," he said.
"I am totally innocent of these charges. I won the Comrades fairly and squarely after sacrificing everything to train for this year's race."