Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Rising sprint star Dlodlo banned for doping, SA lose relay gold

Dlodlo will not be allowed to compete at the next two editions of the World Championships, as well as the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

One of South Africa’s most promising elite sprinters, Thando Dlodlo, has been sidelined for two-and-a-half years after being found guilty of a doping offence, it was revealed on Tuesday, leaving the national relay team to be stripped of their 4x100m global title.

Though it had not yet officially been confirmed by international officials, the SA team were due to lose their gold medal from the 2021 World Athletics Relays, after Dlodlo had joined Gift Leotlela, Clarence Munyai and Akani Simbine in securing the short-sprint relay crown.

Not the most prestigious 4x100m relay title in the sport – the World Championship and Olympic crowns are more coveted – the gold medal had nonetheless capped a spectacular rise in South African sprinting in recent years.

SA 4x100m relay team
Thando Dlodlo (centre) with Akani Simbine and Clarence Munyai after the SA 4x100m team won gold at the World Relays in Poland in May last year. Picture: Getty Images

Dlodlo, a former national junior 100m record holder, tested positive for testosterone shortly before the World Relays event, however, which meant he and his teammates were likely to be scratched from the results.

While the 22-year-old speedster also formed part of the SA team that broke the African 4x100m relay record when they clocked 37.65 seconds in the opening round of the 2019 World Championships in Doha, that result was achieved long before Dlodlo’s suspension and it should stand firm.

Dlodlo should be allowed to return to competition late next year, and while his return will coincide with the close of the 2023 season, he will be cleared to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games.

He will miss out, however, on the next two editions of the World Championships, in Eugene this year and Budapest next season, as well as the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

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