NAIROBI, Kenya, October 4 – New York marathon champions, former world-record holder Wilson Kipsang and two-time London winner Mary Keitany have called on Athletics Kenya (AK) and Government to take doping issues seriously, after Rita Jeptoo’s A-Sample tested positive for EPO.
The pair were speaking on Tuesday night at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when they returned home to a heroic welcome from family, relatives and friends who belted praise songs in their honour with the traditional swig of ‘Mursik’ (fermented milk) as a special garland made of Sinendet leaves reserved for returning conquerors adorned their necks.
With no AK officials to welcome the champions back home, they were received by the professional Athletes Association of Kenya (PAAK) officials that Kipsang serves as president while Keitany is the Uasin Gishu Branch treasurer in a screaming sign of icy relations between the two bodies.
“I just received the news that Jeptoo had tested positive when I was in New York and it was very sad because we need a clean sport and that’s what we have been trying to advocate. Many athletes don’t know prohibited drugs because there is no awareness but through PAAK where I’m the president I will make sure all upcoming and top runners are aware of doping.
“It wasn’t good news especially to athletes who have been running at the top with good times, but I think it’s something which the Government should go deep and intervene and make sure it doesn’t happen anymore because it doesn’t portray a good image to our country,” Kipsang who won the world majors bonus of Sh44.7m (USD500, 000) declared.
Keitany who was making a comeback after a two-year maternity sabbatical concurred with Kipsang, saying, “The federation should take action on doping cases because it’s give us and our country a tainted image out there.”
Running his second slowest time in his career since 2012 where he recorded 2:12:31 in Honolulu marathon (USA), Kipsang who beat hard fighting Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa to the honours in 2:10:59 said it was a major achievement for him to win three major races Berlin, London and New York in a row, but added competition was stiff on Sunday.
“It was not easy for me because it was windy and it was my first time in New York but despite the challenges I’m happy to emerge the winner. I really feel great for that opportunity because it doesn’t happen to every athlete.
“There was a lot of pressure from other competitors who were strong and wanted to win but towards the final stretch it was very tactical because I saw Lelisa behind me but I had no worries since I was still feeling strong and he was straining so I decided to sprint for the finish line.
“To run such a time and condition is very hard comparing my usual time of 2:04 or 05,” the two-time London winner added.
Kipsang, 32, who will be seeking to make it to the Kenyan team for next year’s World Championships in Beijing, however set his sights on reclaiming the world record that was broken by Dennis Kimetto who set the bar high to 2:02:57, compared to his previous record of 2:03:23.
“In athletics each and everyone has his own ambitions so for me I think I have broken the world record and it’s still in my mind to get it back because I have not lost that confidence to go for it.”
His father, Joseph Kiprotich could not hide his joy, saying its only hard work that enabled his son achieve.
“I was very happy when I heard he succeeded. I told him to put God first and, everything is hard nothing comes easy and everyone wanted to be a winner so I told him to work hard and I was happy seeing him leading. He is on the right track and more is on the way coming.”
-Keitany dedicates win to her daughters-
Keitany dedicated the win to her daughters and is now focused on next season’s major honours including the Worlds.
“The race was tough with windy and cold conditions but I tried my best to win. I didn’t want to make the mistake I did in 2011 when I opened the gap early and that’s why I stayed at the back until at the 36km when I pushed because we were many.
“When I went ahead, and I saw Jemima Sumgong where we tried to push together but I knew I will beat her because I was familiar with the course since I have been there three times. I’m now fully back and my body is responding well and I thank my family for enabling me prepare well,” the 32-year-old mother of two underscored who welcomed Samatha last year added.