Kenyan Olympic champ Sumgong fails dope test: IAAF

Source:AFP Published: 2017/4/8 1:13:39

Jemima Sumgong, the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold in the marathon when she triumphed in Rio last year, has failed an out-of-competition dope test, athletics officials said Friday.

The 32-year-old, who is also the reigning London Marathon champion, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO in a test by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in her native Kenya.

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

"This was part of an enhanced IAAF out-of-competition testing program dedicated to elite marathon runners ... The IAAF will make no further statement about this case until its conclusion."

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a natural hormone that stimulates red cell production. Injecting an artificially produced version increases oxygen absorption for a runner, which allows them to run harder and faster without tiring.

Sumgong, who also tested positive for a banned substance in 2012, starred at the London Marathon last year, defying the odds to win despite suffering a bruising fall.

Steeled by her success in London, she then became the first Kenyan woman to win Olympic marathon gold, defeating Ethiopia's world champion Mare Dibaba in Rio to confirm her status as the world's top marathon runner of 2016.

At the Rio Games, Sumgong defied temperatures of 28 C to claim an historic gold medal in a race that finished at the city's famed Sambodromo.

"I was never worried that I'd lose," said Sumgong, who added that victory made up for a disappointing showing at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. "At the 40-kilometer mark I knew the gold was mine."

The athlete has not spoken out since the news of her failed doping test, however she posted a Bible verse on her Facebook page which said "do not be anxious about anything."

Athletics Kenya said that if it was true that Sumgong had failed the dope test, it would be "extremely shocking and disappointing" to the whole nation.

In a statement, the body said that it had worked "tirelessly to put in place measures to fight and eradicate the use and abuse of prohibited substances."

Earlier this year, she was one of a number of top Kenyan athletes who welcomed a new initiative to eradicate doping, which has tarnished their image, agreeing to be monitored by doctors appointed by the IAAF and Athletics Kenya.

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