NAIROBI, Kenya, January 16 – Disgraced Kenyan drugs cheat Rita Jeptoo appeared before a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, although officials said a decision on her suspension from distance running would be issued in three months, pending further investigations.
Jeptoo, once considered the world’s top female marathoner, was busted for using the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO during an out-of-competition drugs test last year, and faces a ban of at least two years plus the loss of a string of recent titles.
Athletics Kenya officials, who had urged Jeptoo to “spill the beans” on how she acquired and was administered the drug, said the athlete testified for more than two hours in what was a “very productive hearing”.
“We have garnered a lot of information. This case has not been concluded simply because there is a lot of information that has come about through the hearing and we have to go back and consult,” Athletics Kenya medical commission member and chief executive Isaac Mwangi told reporters at the end of 12 hours of closed-door testimonies and deliberations.
Mwangi who said Jeptoo remained on suspension pending a final decision, added Athletics Kenya needed to consult with the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) on whether Jeptoo should be punished with a two-year ban or with the new mandatory four-year ban that came into force from January 1.
“This is a hearing that is confidential so we may not be able to give a lot of information but of importance to note is that we will be asking further information from IAAF then we will communicate once we are through.
“This is an interesting case because although the violation happened last year World Anti-doping Agency and IAAF amended their rules and it’s for that reason that we need to consult before we can issue a sanction,” the CEO added.
The Medical and Anti-doping Commission will conduct another hearing in two weeks before issuing a sanction before March.
Jeptoo’s Italian manager Federicco Rosa, as well as her two coaches Claudio Berardelli and Noah Busienei distanced themselves from the case, claiming they are innocent.
“I wanted to clear my company work here. Let the committee meet and make a statement but my relationship with Jeptoo ended the moment she tested positive. I have nothing to do with people who dope,” Rosa told the press after concluding his hearing.
Her estranged husband Busienei, who has implicated Jeptoo in doping offences dating back to 2011, was also called to testify.
“The commission wanted to know since we departed the drugs she was using. So I don’t know the dugs she used, for me we used to use multi-vitamins. Jeptoo maintained she didn’t use the banned substance,” Busienei stated.
Jeptoo, a two-time Boston and Chigaco marathon champion is the biggest name in Kenyan athletics to have been caught cheating, and the scandal has cast a shadow over the astonishing achievements of the east African distance running powerhouse.
The 33-year-old who was grilled for five hours kept her eyes to the ground and made no comment to reporters as she entered and exited the Athletics Kenya headquarters, Riadha House maintaining her public silence over the scandal.
Jeptoo has already been denied the Sh45.7m (USD 500,000) prize for winning the last World Marathon Majors series, and may also be forced to pay back other prize money that has already been paid out.