Coach of Olympic hopeful Genzebe Dibaba arrested in doping raid
Just a days after the International Association of Athletics Federation, track and field’s governing body, suspended Russia’s national team from competing at the 2016 Olympics, another major doping scandal has emerged.
Jama Aden, the coach of Ethiopian 2016 Olympic hopeful Genzebe Dibaba, and a physiotherapist from Morocco were reportedly taken into custody after police raided his training group’s hotel rooms outside of Barcelona, according to a report from El Pais of Spain. Police found 60 used syringes of EPO and other banned substances in the hotel.
Dibaba, who won last year’s IAAF Athlete of the Year Award after setting several indoor records as well as the women’s 1,500 meter record in 3:50.07, is a heavy favorite for gold in the event at the Olympics (though the Ethiopian team has not yet been named, she’s very likely to be part of the team). She pulled out of several races at the start of the season due to injury and has not competed this outdoor season.
A report from El Pais notes that Aden and his group have stayed at the Arrahona hotel over the last three years for training camps. The investigation and raid was planned several weeks ago in collaboration with Spain’s anti-doping agency. Spanish law calls for up to two years in prison for people that organize, promote or incite doping.
Tirunesh Dibaba, sister of Genzebe and Olympic champion at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, was in the hotel at the time of the raid. Tirunesh is in the process of making her return to the track for the first time since 2013. She could become the first athlete to win three gold medals at 10,000 meters, an event in which she has never lost.
Athletes who voiced their opinions on Twitter are not surprised, as Ethiopia’s drug testing has been lacking recently.
Aden has previously coached athletes that have tested positive for banned substances. Hamza Driouch, a Qatari middle distance runner who’s serving a two-year ban from the sport after testing positive for EPO, made serious allegations to a French newspaper noting that Aden provided him with the performance-enhancing drugs. However, he later retracted his comments. Aden also coached France’s Laila Traby, who tested positive for EPO.
Despite the regular arrests and bans, doping remains a widespread problem throughout the sport.
Results and notes from the weekend:
• Jamaica’s Yohan Blake ran 10.23 for second place in the men’s 100 at the Adidas Boston Games, the United States’ first street meet. Blake, who was once suspended for three months for a banned substance, said that Russians should be allowed to run in Rio because “everybody deserves a chance.”
• U.S. Olympic marathoner Jared Ward tuned up for the Olympics with a easy 66:01 win at the Alaska Airlines Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon on Saturday.
• Kate Murphy, a junior at Lake Braddock High School in Virginia, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials with a 4:07.21 victory in the Adidas Dream 1,500 meters—the third-fastest by a high school runner—at the Boost Boston Games. At just 16 years old, she may be the youngest competitor at the Olympic Trials, which are July 1–10 in Eugene, Ore. She was born on Aug. 15, 1999, which probably means we will have to wait until 2020 for an Olympic Trials qualifier that was born after 2000.
• The better performance by a 16-year-old came from Sydney McLaughlin, a junior from Union Catholic in New Jersey, who smashed the national high school record in the 400 meters. Her time of 54.46, nearly a second faster than the former record of 55.20, is the second-fastest time ever run in the world by a girl under 20 years old. (She also split 50.93 on a 4x400-meter relay over the weekend.) She is the fourth-fastest American on the year and the top three at the trials will go to the Olympics.
• Nick Symmonds, a two-time Olympian at 800 meters, scratched from the men’s 800 at the Brooks PR Invitational and tells LetsRun.com that his status for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials is up in the air due to injury.
• The latest court filings in the Nike vs. Boris Berian case show that Nike offered a contract that was laden with reductions for poor performances or failure to compete. Berian is arguing that the New Balance offer did not have reductions and so Nike’s did not match in their offer. A hearing will take place on June 21.