Athletics

No Comrades security threat

2013-05-30 17:15
Comrades (File)
Durban - Comrades Marathon race director Johan van Staden insists additional security measures are only precautionary ahead of the 88th edition of the race, to be run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

Organisers of some high-profile global road races have been forced to introduce additional safety procedures in recent weeks following twin bombings at the Boston Marathon last month that killed three people and left a further 264 injured.

"It is just a measure. Comrades, over the past 20 years, have had very stringent security measures in place," Van Staden said on Thursday.

"It’s just revisiting our systems and making sure we are compliant with the act as it is.

"We’ve stepped things up, but in negotiations with the police services, they made it very clear that from the intelligence they’ve received, there’s absolutely no threat to our event and we can relax."

Community marshals would assist 652 SA Police Service (SAPS) officials, as well as metro police, Bhejane Security - the official Comrades security partner - and other law enforcement officials, while SAPS bomb squad personnel would carry out checks at the start and finish.

Van Staden also confirmed that neither of the global governing bodies for road running - the Association of International Marathons (AIMS) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) - had ordered additional security for one of the world’s largest ultra-marathons.

"We haven’t been asked to. It was mainly lot of questions being posted by media that sparked this," he said.

"We relooked at our systems and everything was adequate. There’s nothing to worry about, so I’m comfortable and I know we will provide a very safe environment."

Assurances were also given by the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) that there would not be a repeat of the drama that emerged after last year's race when men's winner Ludwick Mamabolo tested positive for methylhexaneamine. An inquiry committee later found multiple irregularities in the post-race testing process.

The 36-year-old was eventually cleared of doping charges, 11 months after winning the event, and his name was included among more than 19 000 entries received for this weekend's 86km race.

"There’s been an intensive training programme under the auspices of the SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (Saids)," said CMA general manager Gary Boshoff.

"All the volunteers that have been involved in the past, plus an additional team, have gone through an intensive training programme. They are a team of 24.

"They’ve all now been accredited as drug chaperones by Saids. They will be doing duty on the day and make sure all the requirements are met in terms of the testing."

Read more on:    comrades  |  johan van staden  |  athletics
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