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‘We are treated like sporting slaves’: Ethiopian lifts lid on trade in athletes

Lily Abdullayeva, who says she had prize money stolen and was tricked into taking drugs after moving to Azerbaijan, reveals the dark side of athletics where African runners are bought by richer nations and exploited

The smell of fish stew pervades Lily Abdullayeva’s house, a 40-minute drive from central Addis Ababa, past a throng of roadside villages of colourful ramshackle huts where legs of beef hang from corrugated iron roofs and children in Manchester United shirts play barefoot.

A modest but smart brick building, it is shielded by rusty gates, beyond which several cows graze on a thirsty patch of grass. In the back room her mother-in-law lays on a mattress on the floor with Beheyaw, Lily’s 13-month-old son, snoozing beside her.

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