News 22nd June 2020

Twelve year ban for Ethiopian who forged medical documents

Ethiopian marathon runner Etaferahu Wodaj has been sanctioned with a 12 year ban, after a joint investigation by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics and the Ethiopian national anti-doping organisation (NADO) found that she had forged medical documentation in an attempt to explain erythropoietin (EPO) use. Wodaj returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for EPO and testosterone from a sample taken at the Waterfront Marathon on 20 October 2019, where she finished eighth. Wodaj initially submitted a medical certificate from AS Medium Clinic, asserting a 2 October 2019 examination date.

Wodaj argued that the EPO had been administered to her to treat a medical condition. The AIU asked her to supply the certificate of treatment plus the name of the doctor. On 24 March 2020, she submitted a case report signed on 18 March 2020 stating that she had been prescribed medications and treated for an infection on 2 October 2019. 

A day later, she sent a patient referral record dated 10 October 2019 and a medical certificate from Tikur Anbessa Specialised Hospital, also dated 10 October 2019. They outlined that she had been referred to that hospital for a blood transfusion, and a doctor’s recommended treatment to take r-EPO every four days for three weeks.

In the full Decision (PDF below), the AIU and Ethiopian NADO established: 

• That the AS Medium Clinic had ceased operations on 9 September 2019, three weeks before Wodaj’s alleged 2 October 2019 visit;
• A fake telephone number & fake doctor at the AS Medium Clinic;
• No patient records for Wodaj at the Tikur Anbessa Specialised Hospital;
• A fake medical stamp;
• A fake medical certificate.

As such, Wodaj was charged both with presence of a prohibited substance and tampering with doping control. Her 12 year ban will expire on 21 November 2031, when she will be 42.

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