Two Refugee Olympians Suspended After Positive Tests For Same Substance As Chinese Swimmers

A second member of the Refugee Olympic team has been suspended after testing positive for the banned substance trimetazidine (TMZ), the same substance the Chinese swimmers popped for in the 2021 doping scandal that came to light last month.

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, a two-time Refugee Olympic runner, was issued a provisional suspension by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on April 30, just two days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the Refugee team for Paris 2024.

“The AIU has provisionally suspended Anjelina Nadai Lohalith (Athlete Refugee Team) for Presence/Use of a Prohibited Substance (Trimetazidine),” the AIU wrote on X, with a final decision pending.

On March 19, another runner expected to be named to the 2024 Refugee Olympic team, Dominic Lokolong Atiol, was given a provisional suspension after testing positive for TMZ.

Lohalith, who fled war in South Sudan as a child and took refuge in Kenya, ran the women’s 1500 meters at the last two Olympics in Rio and Tokyo. The 31-year-old was on a scholarship from the IOC in preparing to compete in Paris.

Lokolong Atiol, also a refugee from South Sudan who took refuge in Kenya, was also on scholarship with the IOC in order to compete at the 2024 Games. The 24-year-old was slated to compete in the men’s 800 and 1500 meters.

While both athletes were immediately suspended once the positive tests came to light, that was not the case for the Chinese swimmers.

The Chinese Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) concluded that the positive TMZ tests for the 23 swimmers in 2021 were due to a contaminated kitchen, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it was not in a position to disprove those findings at the time.

The Chinese swimmers were never sanctioned and went on to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, with three of them winning gold: Zhang YufeiYang Junxuan and Wang Shun.

After coming under heavy scrutiny over its handling of the case, WADA has launched an independent review led by Swiss prosecutor Eric Cottier (though WADA has also received criticism over the selection of Cottier).

Another Refugee Olympic track & field athlete, steeplechase runner Fouad Idbafdil, was given a three-year ban in December after testing positive for EPO.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

Can someone explain what TMZ actually does. I know its a heart medication but what are the benefits of taking it as an athlete?

1 month ago

I am fairly convinced that everyone dopes after watching Icarus. We keep learning about more intricate doping since Lance.

1 month ago

These refugee olympians should be offered some sort of compensation!

Post grad swimmer
Reply to  Stingy
1 month ago

For cheating?

Viking Steve
1 month ago

The silence is deafening for the China ‘contamination’ investigation follow up

Luda Z
1 month ago

Absolute double standards! Disgraceful!

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Guess the NGO for “refugee” doesn’t have as much pull as China.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago


Philip Johnson
1 month ago

These contaminated kitchens are out of control.

1 month ago

No money for bribes on Refugee team so they’re just suspended.Surprising????…..NOT!!!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »