The only Kenyan to have ever won an Olympic women’s marathon gold medal failed an out-of-competition drug test. Jemima Sumgong, 32, tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a substance used to enhance endurance by stimulating red blood cell production. EPO has been on the World Ant-Doping Agency‘s banned substance list since the early 1990s.
“The IAAF can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) has commenced this week,” the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said in a statement via Reuters. “The athlete tested positive for EPO (Erythropoietin) following a no-notice test conducted by the IAAF in Kenya.”
Sumgong became the first Kenyan to be crowned the Olympic women’s champion in August 2016 winning in 2:24:04. She is one of only two Kenyans, along with Sammy Wanjiru, to have ever won an Olympic gold medal in the marathon.
Eunice Kirwa of Bahrain finished second to Sumgong at the Rio Olympics; Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba was third.
The test was performed as part of an “enhanced IAAF out-of-competition testing programme” supported by the Abbott World Marathon Majors, a race circuit comprised of the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin and New York City Marathons. According to David Monti, the test was performed this past February.
In early 2016, Sumgong won the London Marathon despite falling mid-race and was expected to race again at this year’s event on April 23. Sumgong is currently leading the standings in the World Marathon Majors. The Abbott World Marathon Majors will not name a winner for this cycle until “the conclusion of Jemima Sumgong’s case and any potential appeal process.”
“What is real anymore?” Shalane Flanagan tweeted out in addition to the below post. Flanagan, who has raced Sumgong on two notable occasions, including Boston in 2014 and Rio in 2016, is set to be upgraded to Olympic 10,000m silver due to Elvan Abeylegesse’s doping infraction in Beijing in 2008.
— Shalane Flanagan (@ShalaneFlanagan) April 6, 2017
Sumgong, who tested positive for prednisolone in 2012 but that ban was lifted on a technicality, reports Chris Chavez, used to train with countrywoman Rita Jeptoo, who is currently banned from competition for the use of EPO. Jeptoo was stripped of both her 2014 Boston and London Marathon titles as a result of the positive test.