NAIROBI, Kenya, February 23- Athletics Kenya has confirmed that three distance runners have been banned for a total of five years for varying doping offences.
Wilson Erupe Loyanae and Nixon Kiplagat Cherutich will serve a suspension of two years each with Moses Kiptoo Kurgat being sanctioned for a year after both A and B samples returned positive results for proscribed substance abuse.
Erupe tested positive for EPO, or erythropoietin, in an out-of-competition test conducted last year, the first Kenyan athlete to be caught using the bannned drug hormone which increases the red blood cell count.
Kiplagat tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone, after competing in a race in Mexico.
A fourth, Francis Kibiwott, who represented the country at the 2007 World Half Marathon in Udine, Italy, finishing 45th, was pardoned after his case was positively reviewed by the medical commission of world body, IAAF.
According to AK, Kibiwott successfully pressed his case for medical reasons and it was thereby established he was not using performance enhancing drugs.
Yet another female athlete is likely to be banned when normal procedures are completed after her A sample tested positive during the 2012 Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon held last October.
Speaking to Capital Sport on Friday, federation secretary, David Okeyo, confirmed the latest cases but maintained the recent busts do not mean the country is gripped by a full blown doping problem.
“We have nothing to hide. As soon as we establish any athlete has doped, we shall expose them.
“The procedures involved require a lot of time and the athletes must state their case before the Medical Commission so the issue of AK not taking any action does not arise,” he added.
Hailing from Lodwar in Turkana District, Loyanae began running in marathon races in his native country in 2010.
That year he was sixth at the Kisumu Marathon and seventh at the Kass Marathon before he established himself as a competitor of international calibre the following season when he won at Mombasa Marathon in 2:13:00.
He ran in his first foreign race in October 2011 at South Korea’s Gyeongju International Marathon and he won with a personal best time of 2:09:23 hours.
Loyanae’s next outing was again in South Korea, this time at the higher profile Seoul International Marathon, and he managed to continue his winning streak.
Beating the more favoured Kenyans, James Kwambai and Eliud Kiptanui; he knocked almost four minutes off his best time to set a course record of 2:05:37– a mark which moved him into the top 30 runners of all time.
He defended his title in Gyeongju with a course record run of 2:06:46 and his first race this year saw him place third in the Houston Half Marathon.
“Loyanae is a top marathoner and he is in the top 30 but we will not spare anyone, we are taking doping seriously. But in most of the cases in this country like Kiplagat’s, they say that they are sick.
“We have been telling the athletes that when they are sick, they should let us know what they are being given so that we can present their cases since the rules are very clear,” Okeyo explained.
Kiptoo placed third in both Enschede (2:09:59) and Gonju (2:08:40) marathons last year running what was his career best time in the latter while Kiplagat also took the final podium place in the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2:14:46.
“We educating our athletes every day and doing all that we can to ensure that our runners do not fall into this problem,” the general secretary stated.
He disclosed they were waiting for tests conducted during last weekend’s National Cross Country Championships before paying out the prize monies or confirming the Kenyan team that will take part in the 40th World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on March 24.
Okeyo welcomed the formation of a Government committee to investigate claims clinics in Nairobi and Kapsabet were providing doping substances to the country’s runners.
“We have no powers to go to clinics and arrest those involved but I’m pleased the investigations are going on.”
Last year four athletes were sanctioned for doping, the most renowned being Matthew Kisorio, the captain of Team Kenya to the 2011 Punta Umbria World Cross failed urine tests within the year.
Others were Jemimah Sumgong, the runner-up at the 2012 Boston Marathon, Ronald Kipchumba who tested positive at the Linz Marathon in Austria and Rael Kiyara.
Sumgong was pardoned when her case was later reviewed by the medical commission.