March 10, 2016 / 11:21 AM / 3 years ago

Swedes pledge to clean up athletics as Aregawi's B test proves positive

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish Athletics Federation is considering several measures to clean up the sport after it emerged that runner Abeba Aregawi’s B sample had tested positive for meldonium.

Sweden's 1,500 metres indoor world champion Abeba Aregawi is pictured in Beijing in this August 25, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Jessica Gow/TT News Agency/Files

The B test confirmed the presence of the performance-enhancing substance, which led to the recent fall from grace of tennis star Maria Sharapova, the federation announced at a news conference in Stockholm.

“We need to ensure that no active athlete is taking something which is not OK,” Sweden’s track and field team manager Karin Torneklint said.

“We need to educate them and ensure that everyone has something like an ‘anti-doping driving license.’”

Etiopian-born world 1500 meters indoor champion Aregawi was suspended by the federation and had her funding withdrawn on Feb. 29 following the positive test of her A sample, which was taken in Addis Ababa on Jan. 12 this year.

The federation was informed of the positive test for meldonium, which was on WADA’s watch list in 2015 and added to the list of banned substances from Jan. 1, a month later.

“I have previously been given tablets by a doctor in Ethiopia which I thought were vitamins. It’s my own fault that I took these tablets without checking,” she told the federation in a statement.

When the result of the positive test became known, the athlete asked that her B sample also be tested, and the Swedish federation confirmed that traces of meldonium were found in it.

Aregawi, who according to the federation declined to take part in the media conference, now faces a four-year ban from the IAAF and an eight-year ban from the Swedish federation.

The federation also announced that it was looking at several initiatives to clean up the sport, including increased funding and the adoption of the “anti-doping driving license.”

“Before one starts in an international team they should be able to answer a number of questions. The individual should know what they are taking,” Torneklint said.

The 25-year-old Aregawi has been a controversial figure in Swedish athletics ever since she was awarded citizenship and switched from competing for Ethiopia following the 2012 Olympics in London.

She was recently ordered to pay 11,112 Swedish crowns in back taxes after a probe found that she was liable for tax in Sweden, despite claiming that she had never lived there.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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