Speaking after winning the men’s 3,000m, Yomif Kejelcha told The Independent that his nation’s athletes are fueled by the incentive of being given land bonuses by the government – not drugs.

By Barney Cullum (The Independent) |

Double world champion Yomif Kejelcha says the allure of a unique prize first offered to Haile Gebrselassie explains Ethiopia’s athletics ascent, not doping, despite complaints from a British athletics coach earlier this week.

Yomif Kejelcha and team-mate Genzebe Dibaba were each promised large plots of land in the capital Addis Ababa to incentivize them to win gold medals at the World Indoor Championships, which recently concluded in Birmingham.

However, Genzebe Dibaba’s reputation within the sport has been blighted by the 2016 arrest of Jama Aden, her coach at the time and whose current whereabouts are unknown. The Somali was arrested following an investigation that culminated in the discovery of the performance-enhancing EPO.

Andy Young, the coach of Britain’s Laura Muir, said Genzebe Dibaba’s association with Aden was “unhealthy” for the sport after watching his athlete settle for silver and bronze behind her controversial rival in the 1,500m and 3,000m.

After finishing seventh in the medal table at London’s World Athletics Championships last summer, Ethiopia placed a lofty second in Birmingham.

Speaking after winning the men’s 3,000m, Yomif told The Independent that his nation’s athletes are fueled by the incentive of being given land bonuses by the government – not drugs.

Similar prizes were given to the legendary runner Haile Gebrselassie when he put Ethiopia on the map by winning two Olympic gold medals across 10,000m and breaking the marathon world record.

“In previous years the government would give land to the athletes,” Yomif said. “This happened to Haile, but then stopped for several years.”

“Then last year [at the world championships in London] the government brought them back again.”

Continue reading this story at The Independent
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