Ethiopia moves into the doping spotlight

Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:46am EST
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By Mitch Phillips

MONACO (Reuters) - This year Olympic Games could feature an athletics program without two of the sport’s most powerful nations - Russia and Kenya - while a third, Ethiopia, is under immense pressure to show it has adequate anti-doping measures.

Ethiopia is the latest to have its credibility questioned after it was announced last month that six athletes, some of them elite performers, are under investigation for doping.

In addition, former middle-distance world champion Abeba Aregawi, an Ethiopian-turned-Swede, has tested positive.

Russia is currently banned from all athletics following discovery of a state-sponsored doping regime and revelations of corruption.

Kenya, having missed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deadline last month, has now been given until May 12 to show it has adequate systems in place after a series of high-profile positive tests by athletes and the suspension of several leading athletics officials.

That is the backdrop to a meeting of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council on Thursday and Friday where president Sebastian Coe will be fighting to restore the credibility of the sport he graced on the track.

Coe won his two 1,500m golds at the 1980 and 1984 Games, both of which were hit by political boycotts, and results from Rio in August could end up carrying a similar asterisk.

Russia has finished second to the United States in the athletics medal table in the last three Olympics while it was top of the tree in the last three editions of the world championships.   Continued...

Abeba Aregawi of Sweden looks up after the women's 1500 metres final during the European Athletics Championships at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich August 15, 2014.                                             REUTERS/Phil Noble