NAIROBI, Kenya- Olympic women marathon champion, Jemimah Jelagat Sumgong, risks having her ban for rEPO use extended to eight years should the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the IAAF convict her of a second Anti-Doping Violation charge.
In a confidential letter obtained by SportPesa News addressed to the Rio 2016 gold winner, AIU gave Sumgong the option of either accepting a second charge of lying about her positive test and serve an additional four years ban or seek a hearing to contest the new allegations at their Disputes Tribunal.
The deadline for filing a response given by the AIU elapsed on June 18 and speaking on Tuesday, Noah Talam, Sumgong’s husband and coach, read mischief claiming the email they had been given in the letter to reply to the new charge was not going through.
Talam expressed his ‘shock’ at what he termed as a smear campaign against Kenya by the AIU with the body seeking to further punish the athlete by stripping her of titles and prize earnings from the sport.
Sumgong was banned by the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya for four years effective from April 3, 2017 after the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) rejected her plea for a lenient sanction after accepting she tested positive for recombinant EPO (rEPO).
“This is a very important letter. It confirms a charge against you for a second violation of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Anti-Doping Rules (ADR- effective 3 April 2017).
“This may result in a ban from all sport for a significant period, disqualification of results and the forfeiture of any medals, titles, points and prize and appearance money.
“You should therefore give this letter your full and most urgent attention and we strongly advise you seek legal advice,” the letter copied to Athletics Kenya (AK), ADAK, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Disputes Tribunal Chair stated.
When contacted, Talam acknowledged they had received the letter but alleged their efforts to respond to the new charges had hit a brick wall.
“The email they gave us is not going through. AK and ADAK had been copied as well. What can we do if they email they gave us is not going through, how can we respond? How can it work?
“It seems there is something else these people are looking for. For sure, this is killing, this is not right! Which law states that once a verdict has been passed, you create another rule to follow up? They should have passed any judgement at the first instance,” Talam bitterly complained.
According to the AIU letter, Sumgong is charged with, “Tampering with any part of Doping Control. The documents enclosed with this Notice of Charge constitute the evidence that the AIU relies upon in support of the charge.
“However, the AIU reserves the right to introduce further evidence in support of the Charge if it is deemed appropriate to do so, in particular, within the context of any proceedings before the Disciplinary Tribunal.”
“Article 10.3.1 ADR provides that the mandatory period of Ineligibility for a violation of Article 2.5 (that is an Athlete’s first offence) shall be four years. However, this is your second anti-doping rule violation.
“You will therefore, be subjected to a period of ineligibility according to the provisions of Article 10.7, which provide that the period of Ineligibility for a second anti-doping rule violation in your circumstances shall be a period of eight years,” the AIU letter to Sumgong served.
The IAAF’s Doping Control body wrote it would publish information regarding this matter on their website or through ‘other means’ once a verdict was reached.
Evidence of the new charge against the Rio 2016 winner is anchored on her stated defence that was rejected by the SDT where the marathoner claimed she had sought treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in February last year in explaining the presence of rEPO in her system.
“This was supported by a handwritten statement from you, which you stated that you had admitted yourself on 23 February 2017 and received treatment including an injection and a blood transfusion.
“By a letter dated 9 June 2017 (enclosed) Dr Peter Michoma (AG Head of Department, Reproductive Health at KNH) responded to ADAK’s letter of 4 May 2017 and confirmed the following;
“The medical document that you had submitted and that purported to be from KNH was not authentic, that it was a fake and that the author was unknown to KNH. That the medical treatments you claimed to have received at KNH were not consistent with the procedures used by that facility for managing ectopic pregnancies, including specifically, that the injection of erythropoietin is not a standard practise for the management of ectopic pregnancy,” AIU wrote.
The IAAF Doping Control organ agreed with SDT’s verdict but charging Sumgong further due to; ‘your attempt to explain the presence of rEPO constitutes fraudulent conduct that put in jeopardy the disciplinary procedure before the Kenyan Tribunal.’
In response, Talam who insisted his spouse did not dope, sees the latest development as another sign of what he claims to be a sinister plot to undermine Kenyan distance running.
“If we are not careful as Kenyans, we will kill ourselves. The truth of this matter is Jemimah did not dope but there is no way to defend yourself if (the samples) are spiked.
“I believe there are people at AK pushing these things, our own people who are pushing these things. I don’t know what we can do for our side of the story can be heard,” the coach stated.
“If an email provided is not going through, what are we supposed to do? Why was this rule not used during her original verdict? If I had known this is what would transpire, we would have opted to go for a DNA test to establish for sure if these substance was in her body. This is shocking!” Talam told SportPesa News.
The AIU became operational on April 3, 2017 as an independent body mandated by the IAAF to combat doping in the sport under the chairmanship of David Howman.
In May this year, it was the first official source to confirm three-time world men 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop had tested positive for the same substance despite strong accusations his samples were tampered with in an on going case.
Sumgong’s ban has not been extended according to the AIU list on their website updated on July 4, with her last day of ineligibility stated as April 2, 2021.