KISUMU, Kenya (Reuters) - Olympic champion Jemima Sumgong’s positive doping test is shameful to Kenyan athletes, her fellow runner Milcah Chemos said on Saturday.
“It is a big shame to us Kenyan athletes and Kenyans in general,” Chemos, the 2013 world 3,000m steeplechase champion told Reuters. “We are lost for words.”
Sumgong, who became the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic marathon title when she triumphed in Rio last year, after also winning the London Marathon, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO during an out-of-competition test carried out by world athletics ruling body IAAF.
“Athletes must know that they are responsible for what they take,” Chemos said. “Any athletes allowing doctors to inject them without knowing what is going into their bodies are reckless and irresponsible.
“Athletes must insist on knowing what their doctors are prescribing for them. This is mandatory to professional athletes.”
Sumgong, 32, had been suspended from competition pending the B test, athletics officials said after the announcement of the first failed test two weeks ago, and she will not defend her London marathon title on Sunday.
If her B sample is confirmed as positive and she is subsequently banned it will be a huge blow for African distance powerhouse Kenya, where her Rio victory was greeted with near-delirium after a long and inexplicable barren spell over the classic distance at the Olympics.
Kenya took silver in the women’s marathon at the three previous Games and a bronze in 2000, having failed to win a medal before that since the race was introduced to the Games in 1984.
Kenya’s multi-marathon champion Rita Jeptoo, Sumgong’s former training partner, tested positive for EPO in 2014 and was banned for four years.
Kenya’s middle- and long-distance success has been marred by doping cases involving elite athletes. Officials estimate the number of positive tests at some 50 in the past four years.
Reporting by Isaack Omulo; Editing by Clare Fallon