10 April 2017

IAAF confirms Jemima Sumgong’s adverse analytical finding for EPO

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has confirmed that Rio 2016 Olympic and London Marathon champion Jemima Sumgong has been provisionally suspended after a February out-of-competition test returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for erythropoietin (EPO). The Kenyan’s provisional suspension means that she will not be able to defend her London Marathon title on 23 April.

‘The IAAF can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning the athlete Jemima Jelagat Sumgong (Kenya) has commenced this week’, read a statement emailed by the IAAF. ‘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 programme dedicated to elite marathon runners which is supported by the Abbott World Marathon Majors group. The IAAF will make no further statement about this case until its conclusion.’

If her AAF results in Sumgong being sanctioned with an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), she would also lose this year’s World Marathon Majors (WMM) title. She is currently leading the Series X standings, which concludes with the Boston Marathon on 17 April.

Sumgong is managed by Rosa Associati, which was suspended from working with Kenyan athletes by Athletics Kenya in April 2015. Charges against sports agent Federico Rosa were dropped by a Kenyan magistrate after Rosa was released on bail in July. Rosa Associati represented Rita Jeptoo, whom Athletics Kenya banned for two years on 2 February, after a positive test for EPO. The ban was extended to four years following an appeal by the IAAF. The company also represented Amantle Montsho, who abandoned an appeal against a two-year sanction following a positive test at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games due to rising costs. Sumgong disputes the AAF and posted that her team would be ‘looking into this’ on Twitter.

‘We are extremely disappointed to learn that Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) failed an out of competition drugs test in February’, read a London Marathon statement. ‘She is currently suspended from competition pending the B test and the outcome of the investigation. Sumgong will therefore not run in London on 23 April to defend the title she won last year. She is currently the leader in the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Abbott WMM) Series X standings which concludes in Boston on 17 April. Under Abbott WMM rules, if she were to finish top of the rankings at conclusion of the Series, an athlete who fails a drug test and is banned is not eligible to win the Series or to receive any prize money.’

Sumgong is from the Nandi district of Kenya, which has produced a number of renowned distance runners. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) investigated claims by Kenyan doctors in the Eldoret/Kapsabet region – which is in the Nandi district – that they supplied EPO to three British athletes. UKAD began its investigation in July last year after an ARD documentary showed a medical file that appeared to confirm that EPO had been supplied to a British athlete. As UKAD does not comment on investigations unless an ADRV is uncovered, it is not known if its investigation has concluded.

The Eldoret/Kapsabet region, at 2,100 metres above sea level, is the gateway city to high-altitude training in surrounding Kenyan villages. Over a sustained period, altitude training is thought to benefit athletes as lower oxygen levels mean that the body increases red blood cell and haemoglobin production. This aids the blood in carrying oxygen to the muscles, a benefit that remains for 10-14 days when the athlete returns to lower altitude.

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