Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong has received a four-year ban for using banned substance EPO.
Sumgong’s ban was announced the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya today (November 7), which ruled the reigning Olympic champion ineligible from 3 April 2017.
Kenya’s Sumgong won the London Marathon in 2016 and was set to defend her title earlier this year on 23 April, but two weeks prior was suspended after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO) in an out-of-competition test.
Her sample was taken on February 28, 2017, and has been on a provisional suspension from 3 April.
At the 2016 Rio Games last summer, the 32-year-old became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic marathon gold medal.
Sumgong claimed at the tribunal in October that she had tested positive for EPO after seeking treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital for an ectopic pregnancy on 22 February 2017. She said an unidentified doctor gave her a blood transfusion and other unknown medication.
However, following checks, the hospital in Kenya denied that she had been treated on 22 February, but confirmed a visit on 18 April concerning ectopic pregnancy – after her sample was taken on 28 February.
The decision reads: “This response is contained in a detailed letter from the hospital dated 9 June 2017, in which the hospital sets out in some detail the procedure for record keeping and retrieval and asserts quite emphatically that the medical sheets provided by the athlete were not authentic”.
The hospital in question also pointed out that EPO is not routinely used for ectopic pregnancy cases. They stated that ectopic pregnancy patients are also issued with a discharge sheet detailing treatment. “The athlete had not presented any of these documents’, reads the decision. “The hospital, therefore, concluded that the author of the note dated 22 February 2017 purportedly issued by the hospital could only be an imposter, reads the decision.
In its decision, the panel also said: “We might go as far as to state that the athlete’s attempt to explain how the substance entered her body bordered on an attempt to deceive the panel in view of the hospital’s denial that the athlete attended the hospital for any treatment whatsoever.”