Olympic marathon winner Jemima Sumgong fails drugs test

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Kenyan athlete Jemima Sumgong, who won 2016 Olympic and London Marathons, has tested positive for the baned substance EPO.

The substance was discovered during an out of competition test conducted by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

“We can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) has commenced this week,” said the governing body in a statement.

“The athlete tested positive for EPO (Erythropoietin) following a no-notice test conducted 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.”

The Kenyan distance runner cannot be sanctioned until the results of her B-sample are released, however she has currently been provisionally suspended. 

Sumgong’s victory in Rio made her the first female to win the Olympic Marathon event for Kenya. However this new revelation sees her join a list of over 40 Kenyan athletes who have failed drugs tests in the last five years, with the previous case being Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo.

Along with her Olympic and London Marathon wins, the 34-year-old was also firmly on course to win the Abbot World Marathon Series X, due to conclude at the Boston Marathon on 17th April.

The organisers of both the London Marathon and the Abbott Series have since responded to Sumgong’s drugs test failures, with the London Marathon organisers stating they were “extremely disappointed” and “determined to make marathon running a safe haven from doping.”

Abbot World Marathon Series general manager Tim Hadzima has remained positive about the results, with a statement reading “While we are distressed to learn of the reports of Jemima Sumgong’s positive drug test, if true, they indicate that we are gaining ground in our long-standing fight against doping,”

This fight looks set to continue, with the Sunday Times claiming in 2015 that seven of the previous 12 London Marathon winners had recorded suspicious blood tests, with the previous case being 2010 winner Liliya Shobukhova, who had all her results from 2009 annulled.


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First published on: 7 April, 2017 12:00 am