Home > The Scene

Six things we know about the Jemima Sumgong doping scandal

The running world is outraged over the recent doping case involving Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong

Jemima Sumgong

Embed from Getty Images

As we reported earlier this week, the first Kenyan woman to ever take home a gold medal from the Olympic Marathon has been caught for doping and handed a four-year ban. Jemima Sumgong who was the first woman to cross the finish line in Rio last year will not be allowed a chance to defend her title at the next Games nor will she be permitted to toe the line at the next two IAAF World Championships. 

RELATED: Jemima Sumgong banned from all Abbot World Marathon Majors for life

Sumgong, who ran a 2:24:04 marathon in Rio and holds a PB of 2:2048 in the event was caught with EPO in her system –  a test result which she explains is resultant of medication she was given for an ectopic pregnancy after a blood transfusion at the hospital. That claim has since been rejected and her ban on competition is active now. She will also be refused entry for any of the Abbott World Marathon Majors for life.

She’s one of the highest-profile runners to have recently been caught for using World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substances. Here’s what else we know about this doping case: 

  • Sumgong declined her right to have her B sample tested. This is likely because she acknowledged the presence of EPO in her body, but denied taking it intentionally saying instead that it was given to her as a treatment plan at the hospital.
  • In regards to the timeline, Sumgong claimed to have been administered the drug on Feb. 22. She was given an out-of-competition test on Feb. 28, which she failed. She received a suspension in April, the official four-year ban went through on Oct. 31 but was backdated to April 3. News of the ban broke on Nov. 7. 
  • The sample was tested at an accredited lab in Switzerland with the positive test finding being communicated to Sumgong by anti-doping administrator Thomas Capdevielle. He advised Sumgong that her deadline to provide an explanation was to be April 10. 
  • She explained the situation saying she got a blood transfusion and unnamed medication in February. The hospital she named, the Kenyatta National Hospital, said women with an ectopic pregnancy would have been admitted for at least four days and they had no record of her being there when she said she was.
  • Authorities at the hospital believe the paperwork provided was given by an impostor because she didn’t provide the official documents that she would have been granted upon being discharged. The panel discussing her case found her story at best, patchy. 
  • The hospital allegedly does have record of Sumgong paying a visit for the condition which she described, however it was in April – weeks after the positive test. 

With files from the BBC, CBC, FloTrack and the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya.