Friday, 7 April 2017

Olympic marathon gold medal winner Sumgong tests positive for EPO

Jemima Sumgong, who last year became the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic gold in the marathon, tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO in an out-of-competition test carried out by the IAAF in February, the sport’s governing body said on Thursday.

• IAAF confirms positive ‘no-notice’ test for Rio 2016 marathon winner
• Kenyan became first from her country to win gold in the event
Kenya’s Jemima Sumgong raises her arms in victory as she crosses the finish line of the Women’s Marathon at Rio 2016.

“The IAAF can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning Jemima Sumgong has commenced this week,” the IAAF said in a statement.
“The athlete tested positive for EPO (Erythropoietin) following a no-notice test conducted by the IAAF in Kenya.

“This was part of an enhanced IAAF out-of-competition testing programme dedicated to elite marathon runners which is supported by the Abbott World Marathon Majors group.”

If Sumgong’s B sample is confirmed as positive and she is subsequently banned it will be a massive blow for African distance powerhouse Kenya, where her Rio victory was greeted with near-delirium after such a long and inexplicable barren spell over the classic distance at the Olympics.

Kenya took silver in the women’s marathon at the three previous Games and a bronze in 2000 having failed to win a medal before that, after the race was introduced to the Games in 1984.

Sumgong was due to run in this year’s London Marathon, but will now not take part. “We are extremely disappointed to learn that Jemima Sumgong failed an out of competition drugs test in February,” said the organisers in a statement.

“She is currently suspended from competition pending the B test and the outcome of the investigation. Sumgong will therefore not run in London on 23 April to defend the title she won last year. She is currently the leader in the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Abbott WMM) Series X standings which concludes in Boston on 17 April. Under Abbott WMM rules, if she were to finish top of the rankings at conclusion of the Series, an athlete who fails a drug test and is banned is not eligible to win the Series or to receive any prize money.

“We are determined to make marathon running a safe haven from doping. In addition to testing operated by the IAAF and national federations, the Abbott WMM has set up one of the largest private testing pool of athletes in sport, with the aim being to test 150 competitors out of competition a minimum of six times a year.”

Sumgong, 32, had a stellar 2016, winning the London Marathon in April then claiming the elusive Olympic gold in Rio despite being disturbed by a protester on the course. Sumgong’s former compatriot Eunice Jepkirui, who switched allegiance to Bahrain in 2013, took silver. Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s race to complete a Kenyan double.

The news comes in the wake of a four-year ban handed to Kenya’s multi-marathon champion Rita Jeptoo, Sumgong’s former training partner, after she tested positive for EPO in 2014.

Kenya’s middle and long distance success has been marred by doping cases involving elite athletes. Officials estimate the number of positive tests at about 50 in the past four years.

The latest cases will be seen by observers as evidence of how the IAAF is making progress in the region after previous official criticism of anti-doping regimes in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Both countries have in the past been deemed non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) code.


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