Almaz Ayana answers critics after record: ‘My doping is Jesus’


RIO DE JANEIRO — The gold medal had yet to be hung on Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana’s neck before fellow competitors began to question her world-record time in the women’s 10,000 meters.

Sweden’s Sarah Lahti, who finished 12th, wondered how Ayana could post such a blistering time — 29:17.45, nearly 15 seconds quicker than the previous world record — despite having little experience in the discipline; perhaps the world’s best in the 5,000, Anaya only recently began training for the longer race.

“I do not really believe that she is 100 percent,” Lahti said, according to the Swedish newspaper Expressen. “It is too easy for her.

“I cannot say that she is not clean, but there is little doubt.”

Lahti went on to criticize Ayana’s stoic demeanor during competition, saying, “We see no facial expression.” She added that she doesn’t compare herself to runners from Kenya and Ethiopia, who typically dominate the longer distance events on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Asked to respond to Lahti’s comments, Ayana credited her training, dismissing the allegation that the record time may have come as a result of performance-enhancing drugs.

“There is a very sharp answer,” Ayana said through a translator.

“No. 1, I’ve been training specifically (for this event). No. 2, I pray to the lord. The lord has given me everything, everything. And No. 3, my doping is Jesus. Those are the reasons.”

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