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Kenya sweats over Jeptoo’s doping claims

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RITA-JEPTOONAIROBI, October 31-Athletics Kenya (AK) is in anxious wait for official communication from international authorities on damning reports an A-sample of one the country’s biggest female marathon stars, Rita Jeptoo, has failed an out of competition drug test administered before she went on to retain her Chicago title.

AK president, Isaiah Kiplagat, said Friday they had not received word from world governing body IAAF or the World Anti Doping Agency (Wada) followings claims that surfaced online on RunBlogRun.com that Jeptoo’s urine sample from the test conducted in September had tested positive for banned substances.

Jeptoo went on to clock 2:24:35 on October 12 for victory in Chicago to wrap up a fourth successive World Marathon Majors (WMM) victory and in the process, clinch a share of the 2013/14 series jackpot worth USD500,000 (Sh44,699,969.3).

“I’m aware of the online reports about Jeptoo but until IAAF and WADA inform us officially, we cannot comment on the matter since it is a very serious issue. We don’t want to pre-empt anything and once we receive official communication, we shall address the issue,” Kiplagat said.

Jeptoo was at AK’s Riadha House headquarters in Nairobi on Thursday when she was supposed to have travelled to New York for the WMM award ceremony following Sunday’s Big Apple marathon.

“She could have been here for other things. What I know she is supposed to attend the Marathon Majors presentation in New York,” the President responded on Jeptoo’s presence at Riadha House.

According to RunBlogRun.com, the positive bust would throw WMM into a spin but for a country that has vigorously defended her top athletes of never ending accusations of systematic doping; a positive bust of an athlete of Jeptoo’s standing would be disastrous.

WMM rules require the B-sample to test positive besides official sanctions against the athlete from IAAF or national federation to strip a confirmed cheat of the jackpot and titles won in the period under review.

Jeptoo’s management, Rosa Associati ran by Federico Rosa, was yet to respond to email requests for confirmation by the time of penning this article.

Their former runner, Mathew Kisorio who has since served a two-year international ban for steroid use and resumed competition, was the highest profile Kenyan runner in recent times caught in the doping web when both of his samples failed in 2012.

Kisorio, who captained Kenya to the 2011 World Cross in Punta Umbria, was ditched soon after by Rosa Associati after his ban.

A recent Government Anti-Doping Task Force report accused AK of taking doping lightly with Kiplagat coming under scathing criticism. He is yet to respond to allegations contained in the findings.

According to the task force, 32 Kenyan athletes have tested positive with 17 failing drug tests between 2012 and 13 in a huge surge that prompted Wada to threaten banning Kenya from international competitions last year if the Government did not investigate the cases.

Whilst most positive tests were blamed on non-declaration of medication used by affected runners to treat common ailments due to lack of sensitisation, a damning report by German TV ARD alleged systematic drug use by top Kenyan runners.

In his terse response, Kiplagat condemned ARD charging no high ranking Kenyan runners had failed drug tests at major international or domestic events with few cheats caught belonging to a mediocre group of athletes aiming to take a shortcut to fame.

Any confirmation of a failed test on Jeptoo will quickly reverse that assertion and expose further scrutiny to the slew of reputed Kenyan distance runners who have dominated the sport.

The next few days will be nervous for AK and the country at large.

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