Ethiopia told to test 200 athletes before November by WADA or face suspension

The World Anti-Doping Agency has turned its attention to Ethiopian athletics, with the African country told to conduct 200 drug tests on its competitors before November or face possible sanctions.

The sport’s reputation has been dragged through the mud in recent times, with Russian athletes still banned from competition and the organization turning up the heat on Kenya also.

With the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro only months away, ensuring strict doping protocols are in place has become a priority for WADA and the International Association of Athletics Federations.

With three Ethiopian runners provisionally suspended from competing last month and a host of others under investigation, a major overhaul of the nation’s doping structures is set to occur.

As a result, 200 athletes will undergo tests between now and November, with the process set to start almost immediately.

“We are told that we could be banned from the IAAF if we don’t comply with the request,” national track team doctor Ayalew Tilahun said.

The African country’s government is set to provide $300,000 to fund the testing, with WADA officials to visit Ethiopia in early June, potentially alongside IAAF President Sebastian Coe, to check on progress.

The timing of the tests seems slightly peculiar, with the November deadline much later than the upcoming Olympics and Ethiopian athletes potentially competing in Brazil before being tested internally.

Ethiopia is clearly a nation that the IAAF have identified as needing to upgrade doping procedures, with Coe in the past admitting the country’s current structure was in need of ‘critical care’.

WADA reportedly visited Ethiopian doping facilities in December 2015 and were shocked by poor standards, giving them a ‘zero’ rating.

Ethiopian 1500m world champion Abeba Aregawi tested positive for meldonium earlier this year, however the runner now represents Sweden.

Russia is yet to find out whether its athletes will be restored to international action in time to participate at the Olympics.