Saturday 17 March 2018

My doping is Jesus, insists new 10,000m world record holder Almaz Ayana

Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana knocked 14 seconds off the world record. Photo: Getty Images
Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana knocked 14 seconds off the world record. Photo: Getty Images

Cathal Dennehy

It was, unquestionably, one of the most dazzling, destructive displays of distance running ever witnessed.

In the Olympic Stadium yesterday morning, Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana obliterated the women's 10,000m world record, running 29:17.45 to win gold and take more than 14 seconds off the previous mark, held by China's Wang Junxia since 1993.

Run that fast, in a sport with this reputation, and just as many brows will be furrowed as raised in the aftermath.

So it was yesterday afternoon, as the 24-year-old smiled in bemusement as the question inevitably came her way at the press conference. Are you clean?

"Three things," said Ayana, through her interpretor. "Number one, I did my training. Number two, I praise the Lord. He is giving me everything, everything, everything.

"And my doping is my training, my doping is Jesus. Otherwise, nothing. I am crystal clear."

Sweden's Sarah Lahti, who finished 12th in 31:28.43, said afterwards that she didn't believe Ayana was 100pc clean.

The Ethiopian is coached by her boyfriend, Soresa Fida, a former athlete.

She has been receiving training advice from Yannis Pitsiladis since last year, the renowned physiologist and sports scientist who is behind the heavily-funded two-hour marathon project, and she is managed by Jos Hermens, the Dutch agent who oversaw the careers of distance-running legends Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.

"What can I say, even if I offer her a multivitamin, she is checking it a hundred times," Hermens told the Irish Independent yesterday.

"She is always double checking what she takes and she doesn't want to take anything.

"I can swear I have given her nothing, ever. You can kill me (if I have). Cut my head off."

Irish Independent

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