Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) and Gishen Pharmacy downplayed a recent report by the British newspaper The Guardian entitled “Inside the doping hotspot of Ethiopia dodgy testing and EPO over the counter”which was based on its recent investigation that revealed “how easy it is to obtain doping products, uncovers disorganization at the Ethiopian anti-doping agency and catches leading athlete admitting to having taken performance-enhancing drugs”.
In the wake of the IAAF World Champion in London, the UK based newspaper has reported that its investigators have found out that doping products like the EPO are sold over-the-counter in Addis Ababa and in a pharmacy which is located few meters away from the national stadium.
The report stated that the newspaper was jointly investigating the case with the Germany broadcaster ARD and a Holland Media Combination while discovering drugs like the EPO (Erythropoietin) is easily accessible in a Pharmacy, specifically pointing out Gishen Pharmacy to be the main culprit.
The report also further explained that a very successful Ethiopian athlete is also caught on undercover camera, seeking a doping product and admitted to having taken the performance-enhancing drugs before claiming one of her biggest titles.
Furthermore, the report singled out Gishen Pharmacy and stated that the pharmacy is engaged in selling EPO to athletes without even asking prescriptions.
Though the report singled out Gishen Pharmacy and claimed that the pharmacy is engaged in such transactions and selling EPO without prescription, Amakelech Lulu, GM of the pharmacy downplayed the allegations and told journalists in a press conference that was held at Monarch Hotel earlier this week that, “EPO is the only enzyme that can be used to regulate blood cells and cannot be sold without a prescription.”
She further explained: “The drug is applied to treat patients with kidney disease and those who receive treatment for various kinds of cancers. Patients can access it if they can produce a prescription from a doctor”
She also added that “the drug is registered and licensed in Ethiopia under the Food and Drug Administration and Control Authority and the Ministry of Health (MoH).
Amakelech also pointed out that, “more than 300 customers visit her pharmacy everyday and if our pharmacists sold EPO without prescription we will investigate and announce the findings to the public in the coming weeks”.
Similarly, President of the EAF, Haile Gebresilassie told The Reporter, “It’s defamation on team Ethiopia, and the report mainly focuses on destroying the moral of our athletes who are competing currently in IAAF World Championship”.
“Why is the report coming out now at this crucial time while our athletes are competing at the London IAAF Championship, if the investigation was conducted three months ago,” asks Haile questioning the intent of the report.
By Dawit Tolesa