Chemusto suspension casts shadow on Uganda’s athletics

Chemusto (729) runs in blue socks. She returned a positive doping test. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE 

What you need to know:

The 1500m runner’s name was placed onto the radar of AIU for “presence/use of a prohibited substance” called norandrosterone on July 13. The current status of the case shows that notice of allegation was issued by AIU.

Over the past decade, Uganda has become an emerging force in global athletics especially in the long-distance running arena.

That bar has been raised by marathoner Stephen Kiprotich, Moses Kipsiro, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo. Middle-distance runner Halimah Nakaayi and steeplechaser Peruth Chemutai deserve mentions too.

However, the progress of Uganda at the global stage now faces scrutiny after middle-distance runner Janat Chemusto last week was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The 1500m runner’s name was placed onto the radar of AIU for “presence/use of a prohibited substance” called norandrosterone on July 13. The current status of the case shows that notice of allegation was issued by AIU.

AIU was founded by the World Athletics in April 2017 to fight doping in the sport of athletics and the unit functions fully independently from World Athletics.

“At the moment the situation is under investigation,” said her coach Addy Ruiter. “And Janat will explain herself towards the AIU. So currently, we can’t respond in any further way to anybody outside the AIU to give her a chance to defend herself,” he added.

Uganda Athletics Federation didn’t defer when contacted. “That’s under investigation. She was expected to respond. We give her that chance,” said general secretary Beatrice Ayikoru.

Unlike other countries like Kenya, Kazakhstan, Russia, Nigeria and Ethiopia, doping cases or suspensions are uncommon in Uganda.

In the past decade, two cases stand out in the Ugandan context and it wasn’t about prohibited substances but rather natural cases.

Annet Negesa, a 2011 All-Africa Games 800m gold medalist, had her testosterone levels too high by World Athletics and on accepting advice to have surgery - a gonadectomy - to remove her internal testes, her running career never resurrected.

Towards 2019, another middle-distance runner Dorcus Ajok fell victim to current World Athletics regulation which bars women from competing in events from 400m to 1500m if their testosterone levels exceed five nanomoles per litre. South African Caster Semenya’s wings were clipped by the same regulation.

Chemusto only joined the Global Sports Communication (GSC) camp at the start of the year to work with Dutch man Ruiter. Initially, Ruiter had refused to work with Chemusto again because of a poor attitude.

This coming from the fact that Chemusto struggled to concentrate and be in a camp set-up for a long period. After all, she briefly stopped running to give birth to her son in 2018.

Elite runners around the world are subject to random tests by AIU in any part of the world and often after races, urine and blood samples are taken.

Chemusto raised eyebrows after she clocked a new personal best of four minutes and 1.79 seconds for a surprise victory over the 1500m during the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, Kenya on May 13.

Her previous PB over the distance was 4:15.90 in Namboole in 2018 so she had erased a huge 14.19 seconds and that time becoming the 17th fastest by a Ugandan behind Winnie Nanyondo’s 16 times.

Chemusto’s best time over the same distance last year was 4:16.72 after she came fourth at the fifth Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya, Turkiye.

Her time at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Meeting at Kasarani track on high altitude in Nairobi had booked her a slot to next weekend’s Budapest World Athletics Championships in Hungary.

Prior to AIU’s announcement, UAF had however ruled her out of the Budapest-bound team with an Achilles problem.


Date of birth: Jul 5, 1998

Major Races: 1500m

Personal Best: 4:01.79

Major Honours: 1500m & 3000m bronze at 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games



May 27: IFAM Oordegem (3rd, 2:00.97)


Jun 17: Meeting Nikaia (1st, 2:34.35)


May 13: Kip Keino Classic (1st, 4:01.79)

Jun 4: FBK Games (3rd, 4:01.98)


Jun 10: Fast 5000 - Montesson (2nd, 4:23.65)

Jun 15: Bislett Games (9th, 4:20.04)


2015 - 4:17.61 in Réduit (MRI)

2016 -  4:36.07 in Dar-es-Salaam (TAN)

2017 - 4:20.21 in Kampala (UGA)

2018 - 4:15.90 in Kampala (UGA)

2021 - 4:22.55 in Kampala (UGA)

2022 - 4:16.72 in Konya (TUR)

2023 - 4:01.79 in Nairobi (KEN)