Swede Aregawi faces Olympic ax after failed test

Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:58pm EST
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By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - World indoor 1500 meters champion Abeba Aregawi has been banned from Swedish athletics after she tested positive for an unspecified banned substance, the national federation said on Monday.

The suspension means the Ethiopian-born runner's place in the Swedish team for the Rio Olympics in August is now in doubt.

"It is with dismay and extreme disappointment we have to make this statement," said national federation general secretary Stefan Olsson.

"We are totally opposed to all forms of cheating, doping and illicit substances. We have zero tolerance and this is totally unacceptable," added Olsson who two days ago stood by the athlete despite a storm over her Swedish citizenship and unpaid taxes.

Local media reported the positive check on her A sample was taken in Addis Adaba earlier this year and that Aregawi has asked for her B sample to be tested.

"We can't understand it," her Dutch manager Jos Hermens told the Expressen newspaper. "We are trying to work out what has happened. It's very strange."

The Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) moved swiftly to withdraw their financial support for Aregawi and she is highly unlikely to be part of the Rio Games team.

"We have withdrawn the activity support we gave her with immediate effect and the situation regarding her place on the Olympic team is in quarantine as we wait for the result of the B test," SOC chief executive Peter Reinebo told Reuters.   Continued...

Sweden's Abeba Aregawi celebrates after winning gold in the women's 1500m final at the world indoor athletics championships at the ERGO Arena in Sopot March 8, 2014.                                     REUTERS/Dylan Martinez