Bekele to defend Euro title under doping cloud

The Belgian is said to have missed three out-of-competition tests

Atelaw Bekele (Mark Shearman)

Belgium’s Atelaw Bekele is set to try to defend his European cross-country title in Budapest on December 9 despite awaiting a hearing on suspicion of a doping violation.

The Ethiopian-born runner, a surprise winner in Slovenia 12 months ago, is reported to have missed three out-of-competition drugs tests. His federation, Flemish Athletics, has confirmed he will attend a hearing on December 17 but gave no further details, saying the matter was in the hands of the Flemish Doping Tribunal, who have not yet responded to a request from Athletics Weekly for clarification.

Regarding his selection for the European Cross, Ludwig Peetroons, general manager of Flemish Athletics, said: “The rules and regulation of our organisation provide no possibility of suspending an athlete before there is a verdict. We can not anticipate the verdict.”

Under WADA’s “whereabouts” scheme, athletes on the elite register are required to state in advance to their national doping organisation their location for one hour per day. Failure to be found by drugs testers at the specified locations on three occasions within an 18-month period results in a doping violation.

Former Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu was among the first to be caught out when the controversial scheme was in its infancy and athletes were less-informed and she served a one year ban in 2006-7.

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