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Ethiopia lifts ban on 35 athletes, including Bekele

January 24, 2012

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia has lifted its suspension of 35 athletes, including double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, an athletics official said on Tuesday after imposing a ban last week in a row over a training camp.
The Ethiopian Athletics Federation imposed the measure on Thursday after Bekele, Olympic women’s 5,000 and 10,000 metres gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba and others failed to turn up for preparations ahead of major championships this year, including the London Olympics.
The body summoned over 200 athletes to a training camp two months ago.
“The Ethiopian Athletics Federation lifted the ban last night after a meeting took place between the body’s officials, athletes, and their representatives,” Federation spokesman Fikru Takele told Reuters.
“They apologised and explained that they missed the gathering due to injury or engagements elsewhere in the world. They have pledged to respect the body’s directives from now on.”
Olympic men’s 5,000 and 10,000 champion Bekele, who has yet to decide if he will compete in London, told Reuters last week it would take him weeks before he returns to training and two to three months before competing again.
Bekele has not raced on the track since 2009 because of injury.
Ethiopia, once dominant over long-distance track events, has struggled with flagging results over the past few years with injury and age catching up with its track stars.
The country’s athletics chiefs say they have decided to revamp their preparations after a disappointing performance in last year’s world championships in Daegu, South Korea.

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