NAIROBI, November 20 – Disgraced female marathon star, Rita Jeptoo, has now absolved her former coach, Claudio Berardelli, from blame in the bombshell doping bust that saw the three-time Boston and two-time Chicago Marathon champion banned for two years.
Sportsnewsarena.com reported Friday the athlete, whose case placed Kenya at the centre of an international doping inquest, accused ‘an unknown doctor of injecting her with the banned substance’ when speaking for the first time following her ban for EPO use.
Jeptoo who was also due to be crowned the 2013/14 World Marathon Majors winner to earn her share of the USD500,000 (Sh) jackpot, did not divulge much details about her case electing only to exonerate her former trainer, Berardelli, formerly of Rosa Associati from any culpability.
“It was not my coach (Berardelli) since he respected me because I was his best athlete. He received the message with shock since I was a senior runner who also advised young talents in the camp not to use drugs,” she told the website.
“The pain is real. I tested positive after I had harvested my fruits of labour unexpectedly causing confusion. I didn’t know I had doped since I had talent since childhood. I had never known of EPO but I heard it from other countries not here. If the doctor who did this had told me that that was EPO, I could have stopped him,” Jeptoo added.
“Life has never been the same since the story broke out in the media in Kenya and the rest of the world. I was looked upon as a person who wanted to destroy Kenyan athletes,” she added from her plush Elgon View Estate in Eldoret.
“I welcome the fact she has decided to speak and clear me from blame but much needs to be done to clear this doping issue. I hope she will say more to help others avoid what happened to her since Kenya is a country with many talented athletes.
“This country has many athletes who run clean and I’ve been privileged to work with them and they have taught me a lot about dedication, hard work and effort,” Berardelli told Capital Sport on phone from Eldoret.
Jeptoo is appealing her ban at the Court for Arbitration for Sport, maintaining her innocence in deliberately injecting herself with the proscribed blood booster.
Since she was banned in January, Kenya has come under increasing pressure to stamp out the spike in doping that has seen 35 athletes banned since 2012.
Last week, the Cabinet gave the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) the legal force to tackle the vice with wide ranging powers including prosecution of convicted drug cheats.
It is the long delay in giving ADAK administrative powers that has been blamed for the delay in determining the Jeptoo case after Athletics Kenya called the athlete, her then manager, Federico Rosa and Berardelli to Nairobi in February to present evidence.