From Inside the Games

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has reiterated its concern with handing jail terms to athletes who fails drugs tests after claims an Ethiopian runner faces at least three years behind bars for taking meldonium.

Marathon specialist Girmay Birahun failed for the energy boosting substance, only added to the WADA Prohibited List in 2016, in an out-of-competition test last year.

The 22-year-old has run 2 hours 5min 49sec over the 26.2 miles distance and has won marathons in Beijing, Daegu and Ottawa.

His year of birth is listed on the IAAF website as 1987, due to use of the Ethiopian calendar which is seven years behind the Gregorian one.

He faces a “minimum” sentence of three years under stringent new rules introduced by the Federal Government of Ethiopia.

This has been criticised as an overly harsh response by figures including Richard Ings, the former boss of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, particularly considering the confusion over how long the effects of meldonium are felt in the human body.

WADA will not comment directly on the case until a final decision has been taken, but indicated their general opposition to such a punishment.

However, they did call for all coaches and traffickers of performance enhancing drugs to face jail terms.

“WADA does not wish to interfere in the sovereign right of any Government to make laws for its people,” a spokesperson told insidethegames.

“That is the right of the country’s Government, and that Government alone.

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