The following column showed up on my email early on Friday morning, April 7. It was from Justin Lagat, and it was his feelings about the postive doping test announced for Jemima Sumgong. I believe that Justin captures many of the feelings from Kenya on the news that their first Olympic women marathon gold medalist has tested positive for EPO.
When you just finish a tough 38km long run on a tough course and your body feels terrible, the last thing you will want to hear is that the top athletes you are aiming to run like actually use performance enhancing substances! This is just what greeted me when I got back from my long run. My wife broke the news to me, after my long run, that Jemima Sumgong had tested positive for EPO.
Just like many other athletes, the news shocked me. I can’t even tell for sure if it was not the news, and not the 38km long run, that made me so weak that I headed straight to bed after a cup of tea. Thoughts of clean athletes putting their best efforts in their training, for many years, only to be robbed by doping athletes in competitions, disturb me very much.
Social media was soon filled with the news and comments, as many asked questions: Does Jemima Sumgong’s positive test act as good news that cheats are now being caught?, Or, is it bad news that the top athletes actually get there through doping?
Others would even go ahead and post that no clean female athlete can run faster than 2:35. Another posted that as a male runner who knows the effort that he did put to run a personal best time of 2:18 in marathon, he is angered by the fact that some female athletes could be running faster times than men in marathon due to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and making their efforts as men to appear feeble.
Others wondered why another EPO case is touching on the Dr. Rosa and associates, after the previous cases of Mathew kisorio and Rita Jeptoo.
Sumgong has yet to issue an official statement regarding the positive test. I had met Jemima Sumgong two weeks ago, on a Friday, during her long run. She was running on a route from Eldoret towards Soy. I was looking forward to a great run from her at the London marathon after watching how strong she appeared during the long run, with one of her male pace-setters even lagging about 200m behind her at a point where I had met them.
Unfortunately, she will now have to miss the London marathon after the organisers have taken out her name from the start list. She will also have to miss out on the Abbott WMM prize of $250,000 that she was in line to win having been leading in points on the board having won the London marathon and the Rio OLympic Game’s marathon races last year.
It is the hope of many Kenyan athletes and fans that Sumgong will be willing to help the relevant authorities to finally get to the root of doping cases in Kenya and that those responsible; be it Kenyan or foreign doctors, agents and coaches, will be brought to justice and that a new era of zero tolerance to cheating in sports begins in Kenya and across the world.