Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) President Haile Gebrselassie has said the national governing body will start imposing lifetime bans on drug cheats as it strives to restore credibility in the wake of recent doping issues.
In March, Ethiopia was among five countries designated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as being in “critical care” over its drug-testing systems.
The east African nation, which alongside neighbouring Kenya has for many years dominated distance running, responded with an announcement that tests would be carried out on up to 200 athletes.
The EAF subsequently suspended six on suspicion of doping, two of whom – Taemo Shumye and Sentayehu Merga – were later banned for four years.
Double Olympic champion Gebrselassie, who succeeded in his aim of becoming EAF President following an election in Addis Ababa last month, told Reuters the Federation has adopted a “zero tolerance” approach towards doping.
“Our stand is no excuse towards someone who has cheated,” said the 43-year-old former long distance and marathon legend.
“As of today, any athlete who has offended will be hit by a life ban.”
The stance means Ethiopian athletes caught doping and subject to a four-year ban will no longer be able to compete for their country in any event.
It is stricter than that currently imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) whose rules state that athletes who fail drug tests can face four-year bans, but after serving it, they are allowed to represent their country in any international event, including the Olympic Games.
Source: Inside the Games