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Stanchart champ in further AK dope bans

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ATHLETE-LEGSNAIROBI, Kenya, March 20- Salome Jerono Biwott, the women’s champion of last year’s Stanchart Nairobi Marathon is among the two athletes whose suspensions for doping have been confirmed by Athletics Kenya (AK) on Wednesday bring to five the number who have been banned for proscribed substances in the past month.

Joining Jerono Biwott in the doping list of shame on this occasion is little known Jynocel Basweti Onyancha who competed at the 23rd De Cullacan International Marathon on January 22, with both set for two years out in the cold following their drug bust.

A statement released on Wednesday evening by AK general secretary, David Okeyo, read, “The Athletics Kenya has sanctioned the following athletes for two years for doping offences. Salome Jerono Biwott has been sanctioned with effect from January 25, 2013 until January 25, 2015.

“Jynocel Basweti Onyancha who participated has been sanctioned with effect from July 5, 2012 until July 5, 2014. During the sanction period they will not be allowed to participate in any track and field including road races both locally and internationally.”

With information that a female athlete had tested positive at last year’s Stanchart Nairobi Marathon in the public domain, the stunning news that the winner of the women’s race was the affected runner will send ripples across the country.

Jerono Biwott who won the women’s race in 2:26:41 for her supposed third marathon win of the year, slashed over ten minutes off her previous career best in the punishing elevation of Nairobi.

“I was not planning to break away from the field but when they slowed down, I took my chance,” she said at the time after scooping the Sh1.5m ($17,241) race on October 28.

Prior to the Stanchart event, she had won the Kassel (May) and Helsinki (August) marathons to cap what would have been a roaring season but her positive drug test and subsequent sanctions mean she could be stripped of her victories and required to return prize monies won if she was paid out.

Onyancha is a relative greenhorn in a country famed for producing the highest number of male marathon winners across the world but there is no question the latest doping sanctions will provide further ammunition to fuel claims that substance abuse is growing among the distance running exponents.

On February 23, AK released the first bombshell when they affirmed that three athletes would serve doping bans totalling to five years.

Wilson Erupe Loyanae and Nixon Kiplagat Cherutich are serving 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 banned drug hormone which increases the red blood cell count.

Kiplagat tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone, after competing in a race in Mexico.

Another, 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.

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