Jemima Sumgong, Kenyan Olympic marathon champion appeared to be putting on a brave face as the World athletics body confirmed that she had tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO.
The out of competition carried out reportedly this year, returned a positive test for the blood booster, which for now does not affect her previous results including the Olympic title pending the confirmation of the B test.
Despite the dark Friday, the 2016 London marathon champion chose to stay positive snd not let the strain and shock of her positive out of competition test show.
She posted a quote from the bible hours after the news of positive test was reported by the agencies, choosing to stay positive, possibly hoping that as it was in 2012, her B test could return an unlikely negative result that could exonerate her as a cheat.
Then Athletics Kenya confirmed that it had sanctioned Sumgong alongside three other Kenyans.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God,”shell said on her Facebook page even as the her managers at the Rosa Associati who had cheered her to the gold, Kenya’s first women’s Olympic marathon title in Rio, distanced themselves blaming ‘unscrupulous medics in Kenya’ for yet another positive test from their camp.
"I train extremely hard. That's the only way to succeed(sic) in athletics. Am yet to receive the news,"she added later.
Sumgong has been with Rosa since 2007
She is the fith high profile athlete from the camp to fail a drug test after Rita Jeptoo, Mathew Kisorio, Agatha Jeruto and Botswana's sprinter Amantle Montsho.
Sumgong has been with Rosa since 2007 and was one of the athletes who came out and strongly criticized the arrest of their managers Gabriella and his son Federico last year.
In a statement Rosa said they were equally shocked by the news.
“The news has shocked us and we distance ourselves from what happened: as Rosa Associati in the 27 years we have followed over 2,000 Kenyan athletes and the positive cases to controls, were numerically insignificant all that time but in the last five years.
"This worries us a lot and speaks volumes about the situation that exists in Kenya in recent years in terms of the uncontrolled spread of the phenomenon,”Rosa Associati said in a statement in Italian.
Doping in Kenya has become a plague-Rosa
“A case like this, in fact, really hurts everyone: doping in Kenya has become a plague, because of medical Kenyans unscrupulous approach the brainwash and subjecting athletes to illegal treatment. On this front, we are working closely with the Government and Federation to intensify controls and those responsible are identified and prosecuted,” the statement continued.
“The case of Jemima is proof that the controls are beginning to work better: this is the only positive note in a situation that we consider serious and complex and that encourages us to redouble our efforts to combat doping in Kenya, and organizations criminals’ doctors ruining the lives and careers of these kids.
“Rosa associati therefore dissociates from any unsportsmanlike conduct and is offering its full cooperation to the authorities, calmly awaiting the reconstruction of the facts alleged Jemima Sumgong.”
Federico Rosa who was arrested and charged in court with various doping charges just months before the Olympic games, was cleared and allowed to travel in July 2017.
“In Beijing I didn’t win a medal but I remained hopeful and positive that one day I will win a medal. Then the gold. I am so happy, honoured as the first woman to win a gold medal. I feel so happy its an indescribable feeling.It is like a dream,’Sumgong had said after winning the race in Rio, her second victory in the year that earned her the best marathoner trophy for the year 2016. Last April she gallantly picked up after hitting her head on concrete after colluding with a fellow runner to cross the line first.
AK choose to wait and see
The under-pressure AK that has been working to improve its image amidst a spike of doping cases that has seen about 45 runners banned in the last five years and even had some of its officials suspended for doping cover-ups, is choosing the ‘the wait and see’ approach on the Sumgong matter.
“Athletics Kenya frowns and condemns in the strongest terms any case of anti-doping rule violation whether in Kenya or elsewhere in the world. Athletics Kenya, in conjunction with the Government of Kenya, Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya and other concerned bodies have worked and continue to work tirelessly to put in place measures to fight and eradicate the use and abuse of prohibited substances.
“We are awaiting full information on the matter but wish to advise the public that under the applicable rules, the process to be followed following a notification is highly confidential in order to protect the rights of the athlete.
“Consequently, we are unable to make any further comments in regard to the matter at this point. We shall however issue a full and comprehensive statement once the process is complete and IAAF has confirmed that the matter may be made public,” AK said in a statement.
The random drug test
According to the IAAF Sumgong failed a random drug test that was conducted by International Association of Athletics Federations in conjunction with the world marathon majors.
The two organisations were able test a pool of athletes, with an aim of requiring more than150 individuals to submit to out-of-competition testing a minimum of six times a year.
The only reprieve for Sumgong is that her second sample as per anti-doping regulations will be tested before her fate is addressed.
“The IAAF can confirm that an anti-doping rule violation case concerning the athlete Jemima Jelagat Sumgong (Kenya) has commenced this week. The athlete tested positive for EPO following a no-notice test conducted by the IAAF in Kenya.
“This was part of an enhanced IAAF out-of-competition testing programme dedicated to elite marathon runners which is supported by the Abbott World Marathon Majors group. The IAAF will make no further statement about this case until its conclusion,” IAAF said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Tim Hadzima, the general manager of Abbott World Marathon Majors said that Sumgong will not be eligible to compete or win a series title until the IAAF and World Anti-Doping Agency have cleared up the issue. This means that Sumgong, who leads the World Marathon Majors standings, will not defend her London Marathon title.
Additional reporting by Sportsnewsarena Correspondent