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Ethiopian marathon star Tsehay Gemechu suspended for anti-doping violation

The second-place finisher at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon and the ninth-fastest woman in history has been suspended for the use of an unidentified prohibited substance

Tsehay GEMECHU Photo by: Kevin Morris

On Thursday, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) provisionally suspended top Ethiopian marathoner Tsehay Gemechu for the use of an unidentified prohibited substance, according to the athlete’s biological passport (ABP) data.

Gemechu is one of Ethiopia’s top distance runners. She was second at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon in 2:16:56—the ninth-fastest marathon time in history. Additionally, she holds personal bests of 14:29 over 5,000m and won the TCS World Bengaluru 10K in 31:38 earlier this year.

The 24-year-old was listed on the start list for the 2023 Valencia Marathon this weekend, but will be a scratch due to this provisional suspension. Under a provisional suspension, Gemechu is temporarily banned from participating in any athletic competition or activity before a final decision is reached at a hearing conducted under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules or the Integrity Code of Conduct.

Gemechu beats world record-holder in half-marathon debut

ABP data monitors select biological parameters over time that may indirectly reveal the effects of doping. This approach enables the AIU to create individual, longitudinal profiles for each athlete and to identify any fluctuations that may indicate the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Tsehay GEMECHU
Gemechu competing for Ethiopia at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest. Photo: SONY DSC/WC

The profile for each athlete is generated based on statistics that utilize data from previous samples to predict the individual’s performance limits or range for future samples. According to the AIU, if any data from a test sample falls outside of the athlete’s range, it could be an indication of doping.

Ethiopia dominates women’s marathon, Canada’s Natasha Wodak achieves top-15 finish

Gemechu represented Ethiopia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 10,000m but was disqualified for lane infringement (TR 17.3.2.). One month later, she won the Copenhagen Half Marathon, setting a new course record and achieving a personal best of 65:08.

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