Ethiopia dope bans loom

Lesotho Times - - News -

LON­DON — The glare of the dop­ing po­lice has switched to Ethiopia and the au­thor­i­ties are set to an­nounce a num­ber of pos­i­tive drugs tests among the coun­try’s top ath­letes in the com­ing weeks.

Ethiopia has so far es­caped wide­spread dop­ing scan­dals as at­ten­tion has in­stead cen­tred on Rus­sia and, more re­cently, Kenya.

But Sports­mail can re­veal that in­tel­li­gence has led drug testers to fo­cus their at­ten­tion on nu­mer­ous ath­letes from Ethiopia, the east African coun­try which reg­u­larly dom­i­nates the dis­tance run­ning events at ma­jor cham­pi­onships.

Any ev­i­dence of wide­spread dop­ing there could cause Bri­tish ath­letes to re­think their train­ing plans in fu­ture so they are as dis­tanced as pos­si­ble from any dam­ag­ing scan­dal.

Mo Farah (pic­tured) was train­ing at a high-al­ti­tude camp in the coun­try un­til last month along­side the newly crowned Bri­tish 1500m in­door cham­pion Char­lie Grice.

At the World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing last year, Ethiopia won eight medals in dis­tance-run­ning dis­ci­plines, al­though it is not known if any of the win­ners are im­pli­cated here.

Au­thor­i­ties have long been urged to po­lice Ethiopian ath­letes bet­ter af­ter anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gested lax anti-dop­ing prac­tices.

An­drey Bara­nov, the Rus­sian sports agent turned whistle­blower, warned in Novem­ber that Kenya and Ethiopia would be the next coun­tries to fall foul of the drugs testers.

But last Au­gust, Dube Jillo, a for­mer marathon run­ner and now an of­fi­cial at the Ethiopian Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tion, said the coun­try would not be dragged into ath­let­ics’ ever-widen­ing dop­ing scan­dal.

“Hard work has been the source of our strength,” he said. “The hills and the nat­u­ral high al­ti­tude help us to achieve high in the in­ter­na­tional arena.”

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