35 Top Ethiopian Athletes Are Banned From Both Local and International Competition
Double Olympic Champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba Are Among Those Banned At Start Of Olympic Year
January 19, 2012
(Editor's Update: This article was updated at 9:23 pm with additional information as the name Aberu Kebede was inserted instead of Tsegaye Kebede. Also the number of athletes suspended was reduced from 36 to 35. Also the last two sentences of paragraph two were added along with all of paragraph #3)
LetsRun.com has learned that the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) has banned a slew of top international athletes for an indefinite time from both local and international competition for not following the federations orders.
This morning LetsRun.com received a text from Ethiopian journalist Teferi Debebe, whom LetsRun.com met at the 2009 world cross country championships in Amman, Jordan before Debebe immigrated to the US (when he was in Ethiopia, Debebe regularly appeared on both radio and even hosted a television show devoted to athletics), stating he had heard on a radio station that 35 top athletes including such luminaries as 5000 and 10000 double Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, 2009 world 10,000 silver medallist Meselech Melkamu, and 2009 world half-marathon bronze medallist Aberu Kebede had been banned. Of the 35 athletes, 17 are runners that specialize in the 5,000 and 10,000. Additionally, Debebe said that six coaches/athletics managers were reportedly also banned.
The athletes were banned because they didn't report for national team training and didn't attend required EAF training sessions. Apparently, the EAF named 223 Olympic hopefuls over a month ago and asked for everyone to start preparing for London under the supervision of the EAF.
Debebe added that EAF technical director Mr. Dubie Jilo (who is referred to as the athletics development and competition director on the EAF site) didn't seem to care that the ban was coming at the beginning of an Olympic year and might keep the stars out of the Olympics. When asked about the ban possibly precluding the stars from going to the London Games, Debebe said Jilo stated that the athletes must start following the directions of the federation or a new generation of athletes would be taken to London.
LetsRun.com was waiting for a second source to confirm the ban before publishing the story. News of the ban has appeared on Ethiopian television as shown by the following youtube clip.
Ethiopian fans aren't pleased about the ban as the first few comments on the website diretube.com have been overwhelmingly negative.
We're sure more about the story will be coming out in the days to come.