By Nick Butler,
Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse has become the first Ethiopian named in connection with a failed drugs test following reports that as many as nine athletes from the distance running powerhouse are under investigation.
Endeshaw Negesse tested positive for Meldonium, the same recently banned substance which it emerged that Sweden’s Ethiopian-born former world 1500 metres champion Abeba Aregawi had failed for this week.
Official confirmation is expected today.
The identity of another Ethiopian marathon runner to have failed is also expected to be revealed.
Negesse beat reigning Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda en route to victory in Tokyo last year, crossing the line in a time of 2hours 06min 00sec.
This followed a personal best of 2:04:52 when finishing fourth at the 2013 Dubai Marathon.
The 28-year-old’s other higher profile victory came at the 2012 Florence Marathon, where he won in 2:09:59.
This comes after Solomon Meaza, the general secretary of the Ethiopian Anti-Doping Agency, revealed how nine of the country’s runners were under investigation.
Five of them are “top athletes”, the official told Associated Press.
If Negesse’s failure is confirmed, the case will mark yet another positive result for Meldonium, a product which was only added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned list on January 1.
As well as Abeba Aregawi, Ukrainian biathletes Artem Tyshchenko and Olga Abramova have also failed for the substance, which can be used a metabolic enhancer to increase endurance.
The heart attack drug was moved from the monitored to the prohibited list by WADA due to “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”.
Ethiopia: 3 Athletes Now Suspended in Doping Investigations
By Associated Press,
The secretary general of the Ethiopian track and field federation says three of the country’s athletes have been suspended from competition while authorities investigate them for doping.
Bililign Mekoya says another three are also under investigation, although they haven’t been formally suspended. Bililign and other track officials did not give the names of the athletes, citing ongoing investigations.
Speaking at an anti-doping awareness event alongside Bililign, national athletics team doctor Ayalew Tilhaun says Ethiopians have recently tested positive for steroids, testosterone, the stimulant ephedrine, and the diuretic furosemide, among other banned substances.
Again, Ayalew wouldn’t identify the athletes who have allegedly failed doping tests because investigations are ongoing.
Athletics is facing doping problems in Ethiopia following major scandals in Russia and Kenya. Kenya and Ethiopia collectively won 24 medals at the world championships in Beijing last year.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) February 29, 2016