Hitherto drug clean Ethiopia, reputed for its prowess in long distance races, has joined the list of performance enhancing drug offenders with Tokyo marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse returning positive in a dope test.
He comes first besides eight other Ethiopians also currently under investigation as official confirmation pends.
28 years old Negesee tested positive for Meldonium, added to the drug ban list on January 1, 2016 and which Sweden’s Ethiopian-born former world 1500 metres champion Abeba Aregawi had failed for during the week.
The identity of another Ethiopian marathon runner to have failed is also expected to be revealed.
Negesse beat reigning Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda en route to victory in Tokyo last year, crossing the line in a time of 2hours 06min 00sec after he finished fourth in the 2013 Dubai Marathon with a personal best of 2:04:52. He had previously won the 2012 Florence Marathon in 2:09:59 secs.
Solomon Meaza, the general secretary of the Ethiopian Anti-Doping Agency, revealed to Associated Press that five of the nine athletes under investigation are “top athletes.”
Meldonium is a heart attack drug formerly on monitoring list by WADA but moved to the prohibited list following “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”. There are suggestions that a Ukrainian doctor may have been involved in the transportation of the substance into Ethiopia.