It’s a sad day for the Kenyan sporting fraternity, and the country as a whole, after current Olympic and London marathon champion Jemima Sumgong failed a drugs test.
The marathoner, 32, tested positive for banned substance EPO in an out of competition test conducted by world athletics’ governing body IAAF.
Sumgong who became the first Kenyan to win the coveted Olympic gold in marathon, was readying to defend her London title in a few weeks.
It will be remembered that Kenya had a friction with authorities last year when it was declared to have gone against anti-doping rules. The athletes had to go special testing prior to the Rio 2016.
Known for producing world-beating athletes, especially in the grueling long distance, Kenya was deemed “non-compliant” by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but was reinstated just in time for last summer’s Games.
Shocking statistics show a growing drug problem in a country whose reputation on the track was unmatched just a few years and which is now threatened. In the last few years, between 2011 and 2016, more than 40 Kenyan track-and-field athletes failed doping tests.
Those found to have used banned substances include female marathon runner Rita Jeptoo, 36, who was banned for four years following a positive test for performance-enhancing drug EPO in 2014.
Sumgong is the latest to be nabbed by the athletics’ body and her B-sample will now be analysed. She faces sanctions if that also tests positive.
“We can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) has commenced this week,” a statement by IAAF reads.
“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.” It added.
Sumsong now risks losing her Olympic gold which could be given to a Kenyan athlete now running for a foreign land.