Kabange Mupopo: Bouncing back from AIU suspension to ignite Zambia's Olympic dream


FOOTBALL Kabange Mupopo: Bouncing back from AIU suspension to ignite Zambia's Olympic dream

Festus Chuma 21:57 - 02.03.2024

Kabange Mupopo overcame a doping ban to inspire Zambia's football team towards potential qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Six years ago, the career of Zambian athlete Kabange Mupopo seemed to be on the brink of collapse following a four-year suspension from athletics. 

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had imposed a four-year ban on her on August 12, 2017, after she tested positive for a prohibited substance at the 2017 World Athletics Championships. 

This setback seemed to spell the end of an illustrious career for Mupopo, who had clinched 400m gold at the African Games in Brazzaville and at the African Championships in Durban. 

Her sample from the World Championships in London was found to contain exogenous testosterone, which Mupopo attributed to her condition of hyperandrogenism, akin to that of South African star Caster Semenya. 

Despite her defense, the AIU panel was unconvinced, stating she failed to provide sufficient proof that her violation was unintentional or explain how the substance entered her system.

Before this tumultuous period, Mupopo had already made a significant shift in her sports career. 

After contributing to Zambia's qualification for the 2014 Africa Women Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON), she transitioned from football to focus on athletics, a move driven by the lure of greater professional rewards. 

The decision seemed to pay off until the doping scandal brought her athletics career to a halt. Yet, this was not the end of the road for Mupopo; it was merely a pivot.

After serving her ban, Mupopo returned to the sports arena, not on the track but on the football field. 

Joining Green Buffaloes in Zambia, she reignited her first sporting love and embarked on a journey to redemption.

Earlier this month, Zambia women's national team head coach Bruce Mwape recognized her efforts with a call-up for the two-legged clash against Ghana, marking Mupopo's significant return to the national team after more than a decade. 

Her performance was nothing short of inspirational; she scored a pivotal goal in the 3-3 draw with the Black Queens, a goal that revitalized Zambia's campaign and helped push the team to the last round of the Olympic qualifiers.

 "It’s a good feeling. It’s all about helping the team and putting in a lot of effort. We will continue to do our best and win games," sad Mupopo as per Bola News.

Her story is not just about personal redemption but also about contributing to a larger goal - helping Zambia make history by qualifying for the Olympic Games for the second time in a row.

Zambia now stands on the brink of Olympic qualification, with a crucial two-legged tie against Morocco slated for April. 

The Copper Queens' success in this endeavor would not only mark a significant milestone for Zambian football but also serve as a crowning achievement in Mupopo's remarkable comeback story.

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