The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are a little over five months away and doping news continues to pervade track and field.
On Monday, the IAAF announced that Abeba Aregawi of Sweden, the reigning 1,500m world champion, recently failed a doping test in her native Ethiopia and is suspended until an investigation can be completed. Aregawi, who was fifth in the 1,500m final at the London Games while competing for Ethiopia, is currently awaiting the results of her “B” sample to be tested. The Associated Press also reported on Monday that nine unnamed Ethiopian runners, including five “top athletes,” are under investigation for suspicious test results.
“To be clear, some banned (substances) were found in the five athletes,” said Solomon Meaza, general secretary of Ethiopia’s anti-doping agency. “They will be summoned and asked if they have taken any banned substances (or) chemicals.”
Pending the results of the 25-year-old Aregawi’s “B’ sample, she could have many of her past results suspended, including her 2013 world championship. If that happens, American Jenny Simpson, the 2011 world champion who finished second to Aregawi in 2013, could be elevated to the top of the podium.
“There’s always a mix of satisfaction and grief when you hear the news that an athlete has been caught for cheating,” Simpson told The Denver Post. “These emotions are even greater when it’s a fellow competitor. I’m grateful that the sport is taking steps to catch cheaters and meaningfully deter others from violating the rules in the future. Justice begins when someone that stole from the sport isn’t going to just get away with it.”
Monday’s news is the latest in a dark period for track and field, which has included a World Anti-Doping Agency report last November of a widespread systematic doping program—and cover-up—by the All-Russian Athletics Federation and, more recently, corruption within the IAAF, revelations of Chinese state-sponsored doping in the 1990s and Kenya being placed on probation for being non-compliant in regard to its anti-doping program.