NAIROBI, November 27- Two-time IAAF World Cross champion, Emily Chebet Muge, has been banned for four years while six others including disgraced Beijing Worlds female sprinters; Joy Zakari and Francesca Koki Manunga have also been convicted for doping violations.
On a bombshell Friday night, Athletics Kenya (AK) announced stiff sanctions against seven runners with Chebet, earning the shameful distinction as the first Kenyan champion at a major global event to be banned for substance abuse in the decorated history of the nation.
Hours after Pope Francis left the country for Uganda following a three-day pastoral and State visit, the federation that has come under fire for alleged complicity in taming the doping menace of among the country’s runners struck with venom.
“Has been sanctioned for four (4) years effective 17th July 2015 to 16th July 2019 after being found guilty of using the prohibited substance Furosemide,” AK said in a press statement dispatched in the darkness of Friday night in relation to Chebet.
The latest bans push the figure of Kenyan runners banned for doping to 43, 40 among them being sanctioned from 2012 in a spike that brought out threats of international competition exclusion from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that continues to place the nation on its shortlist of countries whose control systems are wanting.
Besides Zakari and Koki who returned adverse findings at the summer IAAF World Championships in Beijing, tainting a strong showing where Kenya topped the globe for the first time ever, Agnes Jepkosgei Cheserek, Bernard Mwendia, Judy Jesire Kimuge and Lilian Moraa will also serve bans of two to four years.
The presence of Kericho born and bred Administration Police officer Chebet, 29, an A-list runner in the damned list caused the biggest ripples and further open scrutiny at the top echelons of the global distance running powerhouse.
Coming in the same year another famous female runner, Rita Jeptoo, who won Boston and Chicago marathons back-to-back in 2013 and 14 was banned for four years for EPO use, her bust is proof the menace is creeping at the apex of the sport.
In March, Chebet was in the Kenyan team for the 2015 IAAF Guiyang World Cross where her bid for a third women’s senior 8km individual title ended with a sixth place finish as teenager Agnes Jebet Tirop, 19, succeeded her.
She was however, part of the Kenyan team that won silver and her ban could erase that performance from record books as well as other impressive results at international road race and cross country meets in Europe and America.
Chebet soared to her first world title in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 2010 and after missing a defence in 2011 in Punta Umbria, Spain with injury; she returned to the middle step of the podium at the same Polish city in 2013, succeeding current world 10,000m champion, Vivian Cheruiyot.
Her last recorded race was in Albany, New York where she won the 5K race in 15:38 and word about her failed drug test gained currency at the August 1 Kenyan Trials for Beijing Worlds when she failed to compete.
Furosemide, sold under the brand name Lasix among others, is a medication used to treat fluid build-up due to heart failure, liver scarring, or kidney disease. It may also be used for the treatment of high blood pressure.
According to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Diuretics such as Furosemide “increase urine volume and dilute any doping agents as well as their metabolites present in the urine and make their detection more problematic by conventional anti-doping analysis. For this reason, diuretics are classified as masking agents on the WADA Prohibited List (class S5: ‘Diuretics and other masking agents’) (WADA, 2009b).”
Chebet won the bronze in 10,000m at the 2006 and 2014 Africa Athletics Championships as well as silver and bronze at the 2014 and 12 editions of the CAA Africa Cross Country Championships.
-Zakari, Koki popped-
After IAAF announced initial indefinite suspensions of women 400m runner, Zakari and women 400 Hurdler, Koki at the Beijing Worlds pertaining to out of competition tests at the team hotel, AK has now banned them for four years each.
“Francisca Koki Manunga – Has been sanctioned for four (4) years effective 25th August 2015 to 24th August 2019 after being found guilty of using the prohibited substance Furosemide.
“Joyce Sakari Nakumincha – Has been sanctioned for four (4) years effective 25th August 2015 to 24th August 2019 after being found guilty of using the prohibited substance Furosemide,” the federation wrote adding them to the list of the diuretic.
Zakari, 29, of Kenya Police Service set a 51.14 national record at the July 11 National Championships in Nairobi before her results in Heat 3 of the Worlds in Beijing were annulled following her expulsion from China.
She was part of the Kenyan 4X400m women’s relay quartet that won silver at the 2008 Africa Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and took the wooden spoon during the heats of the lap race on her Olympics debut at London 2012.
Koki, 22, was part of the country’s 4X400m and 4X100m relay teams that finished fifth at both the heats of their competition in Glasgow, Scotland and her result at the heats of the 400m Hurdles heats were chalked off in Beijing.
Jepkosgei Cheserekn who finished third at the 2013 Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon; “Has been sanctioned for four (4) years effective 17th October 2015 to 16th October 2019 after being found guilty of using the prohibited substance Norandrosterone,” the federation stated.
Road runner Mwendia, with a half marathon PB of 63:45, “Has been sanctioned for four (2) years effective 16th November 2014 to 15th November 2016 after being found guilty of using the prohibited substance Norandrosterone.”
Jesire Kimuge, with a 1:06:11 lifetime best in half marathon, has virtually no CV to write about and will also serve a two-year ban for Norandrosterone effective 1st June 2014 to 30th May 2016.
Moraa Marita, another virtually unknown with 34:59 and 56:06 career bests in 10K and 15K distance received two years for EPO running from 15th August 2015 to 14th August 2017.
Norandrosterone and other 19‐norsteroid potent anabolic steroids have been prohibited in sports for 30 years. The detection of the main urinary metabolite—19‐norandrosterone—in amounts greater than 2 ng/ml constitutes an adverse analytical finding WADA says.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a peptide hormone that is produced naturally by the human body. EPO is released from the kidneys and acts on the bone marrow to stimulate red blood cell production.
An increase in red blood cells improves the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to the body’s muscles and has been banned since the early 1990s.