NAIROBI, April 24- The dark cloud of doping hovered over six top Kenyan male marathoners at the pre-race press conference of Sunday’s London Marathon with champion and course record holder Wilson Kipsang coming to the staunch defence of his countrymen.
Kenya has been plunged in a doping crisis that has placed question marks placed on the country’s runners as the noose tightens around cheats in a country that has an established distance running tradition.
The high profile bust and of three-time Boston and two-time Chicago marathon women’s champion, Rita Jeptoo who returned to headlines this week when world body IAAF appealed for a stiffer sanction to the two-year ban she received has overshadowed the most anticipated London race where Kenya’s cream of distance running talent will be on show.
“I think it’s a big question that needs a lot of discussion. Many of these guys have been tested all through and their results have been negative. So, I think they are clean when it comes to the doping issue.
“In Kenya, many of you have been hearing so many things going on and I don’t want to comment so much because it’s a big story because you will find some of the things we might not have answers because we have departments that handle doping,” Kipsang who ran 2:04:29 to set the London route best last year to add on to his 2012 crown told the international media present.
“Sincerely speaking, top guys we are really advocating so much for a clean sport because we are clean. For the few who have been found to have doped, we are saying we are against what they have done and we are not supporting it in any way,” the Olympics bronze medallist who is also the chairman of Professional Athletes Association of Kenya added.
Kipsang and company checked into London on the back of a six month suspension announced on his management stable, Volare Sport and the equally prominent Rosa Associati camp by Athletics Kenya (AK) to facilitate investigations to allegations of doping among their runners.
World record holder, Dennis Kimetto who will clash against his training partner for the first time over the marathon distance on Sunday as well as two-time New York Marathon winner, Geoffrey Mutai are other Volare stars who will be on show during the 35th running of the World Marathon Majors race of the year after Tokyo and Boston.
Last year’s runners-up in London Stanley Biwott and 2013 women’s champion, Priscah Jeptoo are the leading lights from the Rosa camp in the race with the suspension of their stables casting further doubt on arguably one of the most potent cast ever drawn up to compete in one single marathon.
Jeptoo, who until being convicted as an EPO drug cheat in January and subsequently being banned for two years by AK was in the Rosa camp who distanced themselves from her actions has also turned to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to appeal the punishment.
In her appeal, she is petitioning CAS to be allowed to compete until her defence is heard and determined further stretching the scandal that has been escalated as the poster case for rampant doping in Kenya after 34 athletes tested positive for proscribed substances between 2013 and this year.
The world governing body has also presented their petition to CAS.