Ethiopian distance-running great Haile Gebrselassie has remarked that he believes doping could be stamped out in his country if an athlete who failed a test for Meldonium is sentenced in prison.
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) President said the Ethiopian marathoner Girmay Birhanu is presently investigated by the Ethiopian police for breaching an anti-doping law after he failed a test last year and he could face three years in prison. “I cannot say this is harsh. After this, we will not have regular doping,” Gebrselassie said and added, “What we are trying to do regarding doping is we have to have zero tolerance no matter what.”
Gebrselassie added the case of Girmay Birhanu may be influenced by what the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has said about Meldonium. The substance was added to the list of banned substances of WADA in January, 2016, with athletes around the world being informed of the decision in late 2015. Later, WADA informed that the presence of less than one microgram of Meldonium in samples from tests conducted on athletes before March 1, 2016, was acceptable.
Gebrselassie added those who facilitate doping should also face jail time.
“It is not only the athletes who should go to jail. If someone gives the doping (material), if someone is selling, if someone is bringing from one (place) to another, that is another key point,” he said.
In 2016, the 30-year-old Birhanu was one of five Ethiopian athletes who failed tests.