The Rio Olympic track and field events kicked off with an amazing day, most notably with the insanely aggressive running of Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana in the Women’s 10,000 meters. Almaz didn’t just demolish the incredibly competitive field, she bested Wang Junxia’s 23-year-old dope-enabled world record by 14 seconds! With so many high-profile distance races run tactically, seeing an athlete of Ayana’s caliber going for time and pulling so many other great athletes to epic performances including eight national records, was a sight to behold!
Even before the top runners crossed the finish line, Twitter was aflutter with doping allegations. Yet, looking at the results of the top six runners, every single one of them ran personal bests. The USA’s Molly Huddle ran a big PR and a nine-second American Record. Fifth place, Betsy Saina who is a Kenyan athlete, but has trained in the U.S. also ran a huge 10,000 personal best. Tirunesh Dibaba, who won gold in the 10,000 in Beijing and London, who took almost two years off of competing when pregnant and recovering from having her son, ran the fastest time she has ever run …. and she is fast.
Who is doping? Why do we think they’re doping? I personally do not know, but I’d love for us to lay out all the evidence both for and against the idea that this 10,000 was anything more than one for the ages. Because in this era of corruption and suspicion surrounding our sport, wouldn’t it be nice to have that?
After the jump, I’ll include some resources that I’ve collected. Please share others in the comments!
Toni Reavis is a great commentator on the sport and his assessment is pretty damning. It’s mostly based on his gut feelings and how Ayana looked during and after her race, but it’s definitely worth a read.
Irish running-great Sonia O’Sullivan has a similar take in this video.
Much more concerning are reports like this one that Ethiopia does no drug-enforcement, or worse:
Authorities busted Ethiopian middle-distance star and 1500 meter world record-holder, Genzebe Dibaba’s coach, Jama Aden with EPO and other banned substances as recently as June.
Only Jama Aden and a Moroccan coach were actually busted, but who else was in the hotel room at the time the authorities arrived? Tirunesh Dibaba, Genzebe’s sister and the Bronze medalist in Friday’s 10,000. And remember when I said Genzebe was a world record-holder? Guess who’s record she smashed? That’s right, one of Genzebe’s four world records came when she bested Wang Junxia’s twenty-two year old dirty indoor 3,000 meter best!
Ayana Not Doping
According to Jack Daniel’s VDot schedule, a 29:17 10k is equivalent to a 14:13 5k. Almaz Ayana’s 5k PR: 14:12. Molly Huddle’s time of 30:13 equates to a 14:33 5k. Molly’s 5k PR: 14:42. So, if just looking at this performance alone, Huddle’s performance is arguably more incredible than Ayana’s.
I was kind of hoping Five-Thirty-Eight would have run some statistical analysis, but alas they did not. However, they did do a little neutral analysis worth taking a look at.
Please share more and do tell us what you think! I am personally on the fence. I want to believe, but it’s definitely not easy.