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Paris 2024 Olympics: South Sudanese Refugee Faces Suspension for Doping

Refugee Olympic Runner Suspended for Doping Scandal Ahead of Paris Games

Paris 2024 Olympics

A third athlete from the Refugee Olympic Team has been suspended due to a positive doping test, raising concerns just days before the final selection of athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith received notice of her alleged use of a banned heart medication, trimetazidine, leading to her provisional suspension as reported by the athletics integrity unit. No specific timeline for the disciplinary proceedings has been provided yet.

Lohalith, a refugee from South Sudan who sought sanctuary in a Kenyan refugee camp during her childhood, had been training under a scholarship from the IOC for her third consecutive Summer Games appearance.

Having competed in the 1,500m race for the Refugee team in both the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the 31-year-old’s suspension comes as a blow to her and the refugee team’s aspirations for the upcoming Paris Games.

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith

The IOC, along with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), had scheduled a media event for Thursday to finalize the selection of the refugee team for the Paris Olympics, slated to take place from July 26 to August 11.

Lohalith, a familiar face in international athletics, had previously represented the Refugee Team at three World Athletics Championships and was among the 29 members of the Refugee Olympic Team in Tokyo.

According to the UNHCR, 75 athletes from 12 different countries, currently residing in 24 host countries, have received scholarships to compete in various sports at the Paris Olympics.

This recent doping scandal isn’t an isolated incident. Last December, Moroccan scholarship athlete Fouad Idbafdil, specializing in the 3,000m steeplechase, received a three-year ban after testing positive for the endurance hormone EPO.

In a similar vein, in March, another South Sudanese athlete, Dominic Lokolong Atiol, was provisionally suspended for testing positive for trimetazidine, the same substance found in Lohalith’s case.

Trimetazidine, colloquially known as TMZ, has been associated with high-profile positive tests, including those of Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva and 23 Chinese swimmers gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith 1

The fallout from Valieva’s case, which unfolded during the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, resulted in her disqualification, a four-year suspension, and a reshuffling of medal standings.

Similarly, the doping scandal involving the Chinese swimmers, detailed in investigative reports from the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD, saw no immediate suspensions due to alleged contamination from the drug in a hotel kitchen, as explained by Chinese authorities to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

As the Paris Games draw closer, the Olympic community grapples with the integrity of its athletes and the effectiveness of anti-doping measures in maintaining fair competition on the world stage.

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