A major doping scandal is brewing in South Africa involving former East German head coach Dr Ekkart Arbeit (pictured), who allegedly ordered that suspicious drugs were administered to the country’s top sprinter.
It is another major blow to the sport there that is still reeling from the gender row scandal involving world 800 metres champion Caster Semenya.
The Citizen newspaper claims to have seen a forensic report from auditing firm Deloitte which discovered that Athletics South Africa (ASA) head coach Arbeit allegedly instructed the team doctor to give a suspicious substance to Geraldine Pillay, the 2004 African 100 metres champion and 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medallist.
The report was compiled after Deloitte was instructed to probe ASA’s financial affairs and other irregularities in the wake of the Semenya scandal.
Before taking up his role in South Africa, Arbeit coached Britain’s Olympic 2000 heptathlon champion Denise Lewis as she prepared for the defence of her title in Athens in 2004.
There is no suggestion that Arbeit administered illegal drugs to Lewis.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympics Committee (SASCOC) has been given the report, The Citizen reported.
It is claimed that during a search of the office of ASA manager Molatelo Malehopo, they found “a small container containing a small ampule named Actovegin”.
Investigators also found e-mails showing that ASA team doctor Dr Maaki Ramagole allegedly injected Pillay with the substance between April and May in 2008.
Ramagole sent Malehopo an e-mail on May 6, 2008, expressing her concerns over the administration of the drug, which is a calf-blood extract, to Pillay, who also won a bronze medal in the 200m at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Actovegin is not banned, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) keeps a suspicious eye on its use by athletes.
Ramagole wrote: “Hi, this is what Ekkart gave Geraldine and asked me to inject. I only checked it now on the Internet and I am worried that it is a banned substance. Please confirm with Harold [Dr Harold Adams, former ASA team doctor].”