Kiprop banned four years despite multiple excuses

PARIS • Kenya's former Olympic and world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop has vowed to fight on to clear his name, after being handed a four-year suspension for using the banned blood-booster EPO.

He failed an out-of-competition test in November 2017 and was provisionally suspended last year.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) yesterday upheld that ban, concluding the case had been "convincingly made out" despite an "a la carte menu of reasons why the charges should be dismissed" from Katwa Kigen, his representative.

Kiprop, 29, told Agence France-Presse: "It's sad that the world will believe that I am guilty of taking the performance-enhancing drugs and yet I have been at the forefront of fighting doping in the sport."

The AIU said in its statement that Kiprop, whose silver in the 1,500m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was upgraded to gold after Bahrain's Rashid Ramzi was caught doping, had "at various times and various formats... proposed a number of possible explanations" for the positive test.

It added that Kigen had claimed the EPO was "naturally produced due to intense exercise at altitude", that it was produced by medication, that the test, or the analysis, was badly conducted or that the sample was spiked.

While Kigen presented his arguments with "tenacity and charm", the International Association of Athletics Federations representative Ross Wenzel argued that "none of the various reasons proposed... when subject to strict scrutiny had any plausibility".

The three-man panel agreed, concluding that high altitude could not explain the presence of EPO in the test and that Kiprop had produced no evidence to support the other possible explanations.

His ban has been backdated to February last year, but he can still appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 21, 2019, with the headline 'Kiprop banned four years despite multiple excuses'. Print Edition | Subscribe