Ethiopia: Anti-Doping Authority Ramps Up Testing for Paris Bound Athletes

Ethiopia’s anti-doping efforts are kicking into high gear earlier than expected as the country looks to curb violations and ensure integrity at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

The Anti-Doping Authority of Ethiopia announced enhanced testing and control measures for Olympic hopefuls, starting January, months ahead of schedule. The intensive initiative aims to identify and deter any potential drug misuse among athletes representing Ethiopia on the global stage.

So far, eight Ethiopians have faced fines and two have been temporarily suspended due to doping violations. In light of these developments, the Authority has intensified efforts to raise awareness and provide training to athletes who will be competing in the Paris Olympics, with the goal of ensuring a clean and fair competition while promoting a culture of integrity.

The Authority’s Director General Mekonen Yidersal stated that comprehensive investigation and control operations will commence in January. This proactive approach aims to identify and deter any potential doping violations among Ethiopian athletes.

As part of the ongoing crusade, distance runners Zerfe Wendemeagegn and Tsehaye Gemechu’s Olympic hopes now hang in the balance pending further investigation. Zerfe tested positive for banned blood-booster EPO in August out-of-season testing. Tsehaye’s biological passport raised red flags, necessitating follow up for conclusive results.

– Advertisement -Zerfe represented Ethiopia in the 3000m steeplechase at the Budapest World Championship, while Tsehaye participated in the women’s marathon.

According to Kidese Tadesse, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) senior medical expert in athletics, athletes undergo both blood and urine tests. Urine tests provide immediate results, while blood tests require more time for analysis.

Kidese emphasized the importance of the matter and stated, “Athletes who are suspected of using substances flagged by their Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) may be temporarily suspended until they can provide sufficient information to clear their names.”

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), rather than trying to identify the doping material or technique itself, the core idea behind the athlete biological passport (ABP) is to track certain biological factors over time that subtly reflect the impacts of doping.

Through fast and intelligent passport data interpretation, anti-doping organizations (ADOs) can incorporate the ABP into a comprehensive anti-doping program to identify athletes that need more attention.

The ABP offers useful data that can be utilized to successfully guide anti-doping initiatives like target testing or investigations.

The EAF has expressed concerns about the prevalence of doping in Ethiopian athletics, attributing the use of substances to aid quick recovery from illnesses. The Federation has also highlighted the availability of these substances in stores and the emergence of unauthorized individuals supporting athletes.

To address this issue, the Federation has called for the establishment of a national committee comprising various stakeholders to prevent doping in sports. The aim is to safeguard the integrity of Ethiopian athletics and protect the country’s reputation on the international stage.

Despite these challenges, Ethiopia remains committed to participating in various sports disciplines, including athletics, swimming, cycling, taekwondo, and judo, at the 33rd Olympic Games scheduled to be held in France in 2024.

The selection of athletes will be based on rigorous qualification standards and adherence to strict anti-doping regulations.