Paris 2024 Olympics: South Sudanese refugee suspended for doping

A third runner on the Refugee Olympic team has been suspended for a positive doping test, with the announcement coming two days before the IOC confirms its selection of athletes for the Paris Games.

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith was informed of her alleged use of banned heart medication, trimetazidine, and was provisionally suspended, the athletics integrity unit said. She did not give a timetable for disciplinary proceedings.

Lohalith, who fled war in South Sudan as a child and took refuge in a refugee camp in Kenya, was on a scholarship from the International Olympic Committee to prepare for her third consecutive Summer Games.

The 31-year-old ran the 1,500m for the Refugee team at the last two Summer Games, first competing in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The IOC and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, have planned a media event on Thursday to finalize the selection of the refugee team for the Paris Olympic Games which will be held from July 26 to August 11.

Lohalith represented the Refugee Team at three World Athletics Championships and was one of 29 members of the Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo.

The UNHCR said 75 athletes in 14 sports received scholarships to Paris. These athletes come from 12 different countries and now live in 24 host countries.

A scholarship athlete from Morocco , 3,000m steeplechase runner Fouad Idbafdil , was banned for three years in December after testing positive for the endurance hormone EPO.

In March, another 1,500m runner from South Sudan, Dominic Lokolong Atiol , was also provisionally suspended for testing positive for trimetazidine.

The drug, known as TMZ, was also found in high-profile positive tests in 2021 by Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva and 23 Chinese swimmers who were preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.

Valieva’s case came to light during the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, where she helped the Russians win the team gold medal. Valieva was subsequently disqualified, suspended for four years, and the Russians were demoted to bronze swimmers, while the United States were promoted to gold swimmers. The case is ongoing and further appeals are pending.

The Chinese swimming affair was described in detail on April 20 in investigative reports from the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD.

The swimmers were not suspended, and three of them won gold medals in Tokyo, because the World Anti-Doping Agency accepted the explanations and evidence provided by Chinese authorities that the athletes had been contaminated with traces of the drug in a hotel kitchen.

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