Jenny Simpson Statement on Abeba Aregawi Doping Positive: “What has been announced today is far from justice served…”

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.

LRC: Jenny Simpson Wins Silver as Abeba Aregawi Holds Her Off For Gold; Mary Cain 10th reached out to Simpson for an interview on Monday and she provided us with this statement:

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This photo from 2013 Worlds will never be reversed This photo from 2013 Worlds will never be reversed

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.

While there is some satisfaction in hearing that drug tests are raising red flags, what has been announced today is far from justice served. First, we need to give the testing process enough time to show adequate evidence and prove that cheating took place. Once that has been determined, we as a sport and community cannot allow a brief unveiling of corruption to stand in the place of justice and consequences. We have to demand follow-through by WADA, the IAAF, and the NGOs to impose consequences on cheaters and advance athletes who competed clean. There’s a lot more work to be done on many investigations in order to repair the reputation of our sport and properly celebrate clean competitors.
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