Kenya's Jeptoo contests doping charge

Kenya's champion marathon runner Rita Jeptoo has demanded analysis of her 'B' sample as she attempts to clear her name over a positive drugs test.

Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo has met with the country's athletics governing body to contest a positive drugs test and demand analysis of her B sample.

Athletics Kenya revealed last week that it had been informed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that Jeptoo's A sample, taken in an out-of-competition test in Kenya in September, had tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO.

Jeptoo, aged 33 and seen as currently the world's best female marathoner, looked tired and nervous as she attended an emergency meeting with Athletics Kenya's medical and anti-doping commission on Tuesday.

"Nothing, nothing, nothing," Jeptoo said to reporters after the meeting, before being whisked away in a car.

Jeptoo, a three-time winner of the Boston marathon and a two-time champion in Chicago, is the biggest name in Kenyan athletics ever to have been tested positive and the news has stunned Kenya, whose naturally-gifted distance runners are an immense source of national pride.

Under international doping regulations, Jeptoo can contest the result and demand a test of the backup 'B' sample -- although if it too is positive she faces a lengthy suspension and being stripped of her most recent titles.

"The athlete has expressed her right to have the analysis of the B sample. This has been forwarded to the IAAF for further consideration in line with IAAF rules," Athletics Kenya said in a brief statement after the meeting.

"The athlete has certain rights that safeguard her. At this early stage we would like to make it clear that this matter is guided by the utmost confidentiality. We are happy with our first meeting with the athlete and she has been cooperative," it added.

"Athletics Kenya is taking this matter very seriously and we would like to prove to the world that we are not lying on things that we know are bad," AK vice president David Okeyo also told reporters, promising "very drastic action" if Jeptoo is confirmed as a cheat.

World Marathon Majors (WMM) organisers have already postponed the awarding of this year's $US500,000 ($A540,000) prize to Jeptoo.

She had been due to attend the New York marathon on Sunday to collect the prize, the biggest payout in distance running.

Her last win, in Chicago in October, came weeks after the urine test was carried out -- and secured her overall win of the WMM series, which includes marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo.

Kenya has been under pressure from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to take action over doping after a string of positive test in recent years.

But a report from an independent task-force released this year did not uncover any evidence of the use of the drugs among top athletes, and insisted that "the few reported cases were aided and abetted by professional doctors, managers and agents".

3 min read
Published 5 November 2014 at 3:04am
Source: SBS