Olympic refugee athlete Lohalith suspended in the team's 3rd doping case ahead of Paris Games

GENEVA — 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 notified of her alleged use of the banned heart medication trimetazidine and provisionally banned, track and field’s Athletics Integrity Unit said. It gave no timetable for a disciplinary case.

Lohalith, who fled war in South Sudan as a child to a refugee camp in Kenya, was being funded with an International Olympic Committee scholarship to prepare for her third straight Summer Games.

The 31-year-old athlete ran in the 1,500 meters for the refugee team at the previous two Summer Games, when it debuted in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021.

The IOC and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, have scheduled a media event on Thursday to finalize the selection of the refugee team for the Paris Olympics being held July 26-Aug. 11.

Lohalith has represented the refugee team at three track and field world championships and was among 29 Olympic Refugee Team members in Tokyo.

UNHCR has said 75 athletes in 14 sports have had scholarships for Paris. Those athletes come from 12 different countries and now live in 24 host countries.

One scholarship athlete originally from Morocco, 3,000-meter steeplechase runner Fouad Idbafdil, was banned for three years in December after testing positive for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO.

In March, another 1,500-meter runner originally from South Sudan, Dominic Lokolong Atiol, also was provisionally suspended for a positive test for trimetazidine.

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

Valieva’s case was revealed during the 2022 Beijing Winter Games where she had helped the Russians win team event gold. Valieva was later disqualified, banned for four years and the Russians downgraded to bronze with the United States upgraded to gold. That case is ongoing with further appeals pending.

The Chinese swimming case was detailed April 20 in investigative reports by the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD.

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


AP Olympics coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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