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Süreyya Ayhan Kop (born September 6, 1978) is a Turkish former female middle distance track runner who specialised in the 1500 metres. In November 2009, she was banned for life by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) due to her second anti-doping rule violation.

Süreyya Ayhan Kop
Personal information
Born (1978-09-06) September 6, 1978 (age 41)
Çankırı, Turkey
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight77 kg (170 lb)

Ayhan ran for the sports clubs MTA Ankara and Fenerbahçe Istanbul. She then joined the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Sports Club. She holds Turkish records in 800 m (2:00.64) and 1500 m (3:55.33). She became the first Turkish woman ever to reach an Olympic semi-final during her participation in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The next year, she became the first Turkish woman to reach a World Championship final. She was the best European woman athlete running 1500 m in two consecutive years 2002 and 2003.

Athletics careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Ayhan's father is a former amateur athlete, a local cross-country champion of her hometown Çankırı. He was both a role model and supporter for young Süreyya when she started athletics in the junior high school. In 1992, she started running competitively at the Athletics Training Center in Çankırı. "It was during a local championship and there my present coach Yücel Kop discovered me. I loved running since I was a little girl. I think it is the only activity that evolves and I still do" she said once. She graduated from the Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam Üniversitesi in sport and physical education.

Born in Korgun, Çankırı, she established herself as Turkey's top 1500 m runner with a win at the 1999 national championships, setting a Turkish record. The following year she became the country's first female semi-finalist at the Olympic Games. She reached the final of the 2001 World Championships in Athletics (another first for Turkish female athletes), became the Universiade 1500 m champion and won a silver at the 2001 Mediterranean Games.

World-class breakthroughEdit

Prior to the 2002 European Championships in Munich, Ayhan was unknown outside of Turkey. In 2002, she produced a great performance to win Turkey's first gold medal in a European Championships by out-sprinting the celebrated World and Olympics champion Gabriela Szabo from Romania for the 1500 m title 2 seconds ahead with 3:58.79, leading from the gun to the finish. She was later named the 2002 European Female Athlete of the Year and finished that year on top of the world 1500 m rankings. The Turkish track star has been a scholarship holder with the Olympic Solidarity program since November 2001.

She improved further in 2003, taking two seconds off her personal best to again feature as the year's fastest woman and winning a silver medal in the 1500 m final of the 2003 World Championships.

Doping banEdit

Süreyya Ayhan, one of Turkey's best hopes for a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, withdrew from the games due to an injured tendon during a training in Germany. Allegations that Ayhan may have attempted to cheat on a pre-Olympic doping test surfaced in August after testers reportedly complained of being obstructed from carrying out their work. She was cleared of doping allegations by the IAAF, but the athlete violated rules while taking her test. IAAF ruled that Ayhan had not taken performance-enhancing drugs, but said the athlete had broken testing rules, and she was banned for two years.[1] Her trainer, Yucel Kop, who is also her husband, has long rejected cheating allegations, but acknowledged obstructing a male tester from entering a room during a urine test. "It doesn't mean that we won't be punished" Kop said. "(But) there was no doping, no switching of samples, (just) violation of rules" he added. "I will not give up (running) until I have experienced an Olympic championship" Ayhan said.

She returned to competition but failed another test while she was training in the United States in November 2007, this time after her sample tested positive for the steroids stanozolol and methandienone metabolites. This second offence meant she received a lifetime ban from the sport but she contested the ruling, taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Turkish Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced her ban to four years.[2] Ayhan took the banning to the CAS in Lausanne,[3] however the international court reversed the decision in November 2009, upholding the lifetime ban and thus forcing her to retire.[4]

Social roleEdit

Ayhan was a prominent Turkish sportswoman in a country which has a low female participation rate. Turkey's sports branches had a total 65,948 licensed women athletes and track and field was a minor sport; she was one of only 1632 licensed woman athletes, in a country with 35 million women population. Her success raised the profile of the sport in her country.[citation needed]


On May 26, 2003, The Turkish Mint issued a 925 silver commemoration coin worth of 10 US dollars in honor of the 2002 European 1500 m champion.

The Turkish Post Office printed a commemorative stamp in conjunction with the Summer Olympic Games in Athens with a picture of Süreyya Ayhan that came in circulation on August 13, 2004. The Post Office broke so with an unwritten tradition for issuing stamps of past personalities only.

Personal bestsEdit

Event Time (min) Venue Date
800 metres 2:00.64 Istanbul, Turkey August 20, 2000
1500 metres 3:55.33 Brussels, Belgium September 5, 2003


1500 m best
Season Time (min) Venue Date
2003 3:55:33 Brussels, Belgium September 5, 2003
2002 3:57:75 Brussels, Belgium August 30, 2002
2001 4:06.91 Beijing, China August 29, 2001
2000 4:03:02 Brussels, Belgium August 25, 2000
1999 4:14:80 İzmir, Turkey May 12, 1999

National titlesEdit

  • Turkish Athletics Championships
    • 1500 m: 1999
  • Turkish Clubs Athletics Championships
    • 800 m: 2000

International competitionsEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing   Turkey
1995 European Champion Clubs Cup Paris, France 2nd 1500 m 4:37:23
1996 European Champion Clubs Cup San Donato Milanese, Italy 2nd 1500 m
1998 Balkan Athletics Indoor Championships Piraeus, Greece 2nd 1500 m 4:31:13
1999 European U23 Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 13th (h) 1500m 4:20.28
2000 Balkan Athletics Indoor Championships Pireaus, Greece 2nd 1500 m 4:05:53 NR
Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 8th (semis) 1500 m 4:09:42
2001 Universiade Beijing, China 1st 1500 m 4:06:91
Mediterranean Games Tunis, Tunisia 2nd 1500 m 4:10:69
World Championships Edmonton, Canada 8th 1500 m 4:08:17
2002 European Championships Munich, Germany 1st 1500 m 3:58:79 CR NR
IAAF World Cup Madrid, Spain 1st 1500 m 4:02:57
2003 European Cup Second League Istanbul, Turkey 1st 1500 m 4:06:63
World Championships Paris, France 2nd 1500 m 3:59:04
World Athletics Final Monaco 1st 1500 m 3:57:72

Circuit winsEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit