February 29, 2016
On Monday, news broke that 2013 world 1500 champion Abeba Aregawi of Sweden tested positive for a banned substance. Aregawi, who has also recently faced Swedish tax issues, has been provisionally suspended until her B-sample is tested.
One American athlete impacted by the news is Jenny Simpson. Simpson, the world champion at 1500 meters in 2011, took silver at that distance in 2013, losing only to Aregawi. Simpson was the only runner close to Aregawi at the end of the race as the two women had broken clear of the field over the final lap.
LetsRun.com reached out to Simpson for an interview on Monday and she provided us with this statement:
There’s always a mix of satisfaction and grief when you hear the news that an athlete has been caught for cheating. These emotions are even greater when it’s a fellow competitor. I’m grateful that the sport is taking steps to catch cheaters and meaningfully deter others from violating the rules in the future. Justice begins when someone that stole from the sport isn’t going to just get away with it. But I grieve the decision that was made by a skilled athlete, capable of greatness, to take a shortcut. I grieve that athletes have influencers around them that encourage rather than prevent bad behavior. I grieve the continued systematic abuse of drugs, money, and power to corrupt a sport that would be even more compelling if everyone played fairly. I grieve the loss of my own opportunity to stand in the place that my hard work earned me on many podiums, robbed of moments meant to honor the dozens of people that helped get me there. I’m hopeful that things might really be changing for the better in our sport and I’m sad it didn’t start changing sooner.