Ethiopian’s fraudulent charade leads to career-ending, 12-year doping ban

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© Copyright – 2020 – Athletics Illustrated

If Tom Clancy wanted to write a short story using athletics as the stage, he could just tell the tale of Ethiopian distance runner Etaferahu Temesgen Wodaj. Or perhaps it could be John Cleese contributing an absurd and chaotic sketch comedy.

The protagonist would be the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU); in this case, the good guys did their due diligence.

Wodaj, who finished eighth in the 2019 Toronto Marathon took Erythropoietin (EPO), an illegal performance-enhancing blood booster. Once her A and B samples both tested positive from the in-competition test at Toronto, she claimed that she was prescribed the EPO by a physician.

The story would then take a devastating turn against the antagonist (Wodaj) when it is revealed that her physician, is not actually a physician. The apparent clinic that the pretend doctor practiced at no longer existed.

The 30-year-old ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October 2019 and finished in the time of 2:27:21 for eighth place overall.

By November, she was provisionally suspended by the AIU. In February, the B sample also returned positive, uh-oh.

She then audaciously submitted the same certificate that indicated her doctor had authorized the banned substance.

The AIU smelling a rat asked Wodaj for the original certificate and the name of the doctor.

She sent two more documents to the AIU from Tikbur Anbessa Specialized Hospital indicating that she had a blood transfusion. She used a fake stamp on a fake certificate from a fake doctor who did not practice at a fake clinic.

The hospital is closed, the doctor is not credited and the prescription and blood transfusion never happened. She was first suspended for four years, however, she is now suspended for 12 years, effectively ending her athletics career.

Definitely shades of Clancy, but Wodaj falling down the metaphorical stairs throughout, lends itself to dark sketch comedy written by Cleese.

She has also run the half-marathon in the time of 69:48 and the 10K in 32:17.

She finished third in May of 2019 at the Ottawa Marathon in the time of 2:28:44.

SHOESTRINGS: The worldwide governing body World Athletics announced on Monday the appointment of Laurent Boquillet as the head of Global Development. He will start work in Monaco in July. The role is part of the vision to “use the power and accessibility of athletics and our athletes to create a healthier and fitter world”.

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