South African athlete, Sergio Motsoeneng, admits to cheating in Comrades Marathon


Comrades Marathon logo

Wednesday, 21 July 1999

In 1999 Sergio Motsoeneng ran the first 45 minutes of the 89km* Comrades Marathon before he exchanged vests and shoes with his twin brother in a mobile toilet along the route. They again swapped later in the race to allow Motsoeneng to complete. Motsoeneng obtained 9th position and won a prize amounting to just under R6 000.

Sergio and Fika Motsoeneng were caught after a newspaper published photos showing them wearing watches on opposite wrists. Upon admitting his guilt through his lawyer, Clem Harrington of Bethlehem, Motsoeneng said his actions were those of a desperate man from a poverty-stricken family. The two brothers were later suspended for ten years from participating in the race by the Comrades Marathon Association.

In 2010, 11 years since his ban from the Comrades Marathon, Motsoeneng took part in the marathon again. He finished third, only to be plagued by another controversy when an unknown, banned substance was found in his system. After failing both tests, Motsoeneng lost all chances of receiving the gold medal and prize money to the amount of R 90 000. He is currently banned from the comrades for another 2 years. He maintains his innocence, claiming to have never used drugs.

*Note: Sources vary as to the exact distance of the marathon. They all claim that the marathon is 87-90km, but the official Comrades Marathon Association website claims the race is 89km.


Garry Taman, (1999), ‘Comrades crisis deepens as gold winner admits cheating’from All,21 July, [online] Available at [Accessed: 15 July 2011]

Van der Walt S. (2010), ‘Comrades cheat at it again? From News 24 [online] Available at [Accessed: 15 July 2011]

Last updated : 21-Jul-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 19-Jul-2011

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