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Ethiopian athlete tests positive for doping

Ethiopian athlete tests positive for doping

Birhanu Tsegu, an Ethiopian athlete who has won the 10,000 meter race in Rabat, Morocco has tested positive for doping. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has announced that Birhanu has been suspended for testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO).

It was reported that Birhanu was being investigated after testing positive for a banned endurance-boosting hormone.

The AIU, founded in 2017 to combat doping in athletics, has been in charge of testing athletes in international tournaments. Birhanu clocked-in 27:56.81, in the African Games ahead of Eritrea’s Aron Kifle and an Ethiopian compatriot Jemal Yimer.  

Following the suspension, the athletes in subsequent positions will be promoted to gold and silver medal positions, with Edwin Soi of Kenya moving from fourth to third.   

Furthermore, raising more questions, Birhanu has also set a personal best of 27:00.73 for a 10k race in Hengelo, Netherlands. In addition, he has also finished third in the Copenhagen half marathon last month. It was the third time he had run under 60 minute this year, having previously clocked in at 59:42 in Lisbon, in March and 59:56 in Yangzhou in April.

Various sources reported that, the sport’s governing body currently ranks Birhanu fifth in the world rankings for road running and 19th in the 10,000 meter races.

Along with the Ethiopian athlete, Kenyan marathon runner Philp Sanga Kimutai has also tested positive for testosterone, and is facing a four year ban if found guilty. According to reports, last year, Kenya and Ethiopia were at the top of the list of nations categorized by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) as most at risk for doping. Meanwhile, the IAAF believes that four countries included in the Category A- Member Federations to most likely have doping problems.

It is to be recalled that the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), in coordination with the IAAF World Athletics Championships, Doha 2019 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and the Qatar Anti-Doping Commission (QADC) have delivered an exceptional integrity program during the ten days of the competition.

It was estimated that 700 blood samples were collected prior to the championships, for the purpose of continuing to build the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) profiles and help detect prohibited substances such as steroids and EPO.

During the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, an additional 500 samples, mainly urine samples, were collected.

Elsewhere, a couple of weeks ago, the Ethiopian Anti-Doping Organization (ETH NADO) had issued a strongly-worded directive to Ethiopian athletes to terminate any direct or indirect relationship with Coach Alberto Salazar. Coach Salazar was recently banned from any athletics activities for not less than four years, in connection to a series of accusations related to doping violations.

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) and NADO are working on several mechanisms to control athletes from using banned substances. NADO is assisting in major education programs to young and elite athletes, to warn and educate them of the dangers of doping. In addition to these, NADO is going to implement testing’s in local championships as well.