In February 2021 the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of World Athletics reported an anti-doping rule violation against the Ethiopian Athlete Abeba-Tekulu Gebremeskel after an AIU Expert Panel concluded unanimously in October 2020 in their Joint Expert Opinion that the Athlete’s hematological profile “highly likely” showed that he used a prohibited substance or a prohibited method: the use of EPO or Blood doping.
This conclusion of the AIU Expert Panel was based on assessment of blood samples, collected in the period from 30 November 2019 until 21 July 2020 reported in the Athlete’s Biological Passport (ABP).
After notification the Athlete submitted an expert report to explain the values in her ABP. However after consideration the Expert Panel rejected the Athlete’s explanations in their 2nd Joint Expert Opinion in February 2021. A provisional suspension was ordered and the Athlete was heard for the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal.
The AIU contended that the Athlete's ABP profile showed that the Athlete had committed and anti-doping rule violation, in particular to the extreme abnormality in Sample 1.
Supported by her expert witness the Athlete denied the violation and asserted that the abnormal values in her ABP were due to another reason than blood doping and that the use of prohibited substance or of a prohibited method was hightly unlikely. The Athlete's expert's report provided these explanations:
- increased HGB caused by decreased plasma volume;
- technical errors in the laboratory; and
- other pathologies.
During the hearing the Athlete did not file any new explanations for the abnormalities in her ABP profile.
Based on the evidence the Panel finds that none of the Athlete's explanations could have caused the abnormal values detected in Sample 1. Also the value of HGB in Sample 1 was so high that in a normal evironment it would have been considered as a situation of emergency where immediate medical intervention would have been required.
The Panel concludes that the abnormalities observed in the Athlete's ABP fall within the scope of a doping scenario, thus, the Panel deems that the AIU succeeded in establishing, to the Panel's comfortable satisfaction, that the abnormal values of the ABP were caused by the use of a prohibited subsance or a prohibited method by the Athlete.
Therefore the Disciplinary Tribunal decides on 6 December 2021 to impose a 4 year period of ineligibility on the Athlete starting on the date of the provisional suspension, i.e. on 22 February 2021.