By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – Kenyan Wilson Kipsang, former marathon world record holder and bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympics, has been provisionally suspended for whereabouts failures and tampering with samples, the Athletics Integrity Unit said on its Twitter account on Friday.
Kipsang’s management company denied the case involved the use of doping and tampering with the doping test.
“We emphasize that there is no case of use of doping,” the company said in a statement. “No prohibited substance was found.
“The accusation regarding alleged/attempted tampering concerns an explanation that was given in the results management process regarding a possible Whereabouts Failure and does not concern tampering with a doping test itself.”
Under anti-doping regulations, athletes have to inform testing authorities of their whereabouts for a one hour window of every day and three failures — not being present at the said time — within 12 months leads to an automatic ban. No further details of his offences were immediately available from the AIU.
Kipsang, 37, is twice a winner of the London Marathon and has a personal best of two hours, 3 minutes, 13 seconds — making him the equal sixth-fastest man in history. His time of 2:03.23 at the 2013 Berlin Marathon stood as the world record for a year.
He also won the 2014 New York Marathon and 2017 Tokyo Marathon.
“It is disappointing to hear another Kenyan, and a top one at that, becoming a victim of the doping scourge,” Barnaba Korir, Athletics Kenya Executive Committee member and Chairman of the Nairobi Region, told Reuters.
“But at the same time, we at Athletics Kenya take the development positively as we support the AIU in its effort to eradicate this (doping) scourge, which has taken a heavy toll on our athletes and image as a country.”
Micah Chemos, AK Athletes’ Representative, said: “I am still in shock and terribly disappointed by the announcement. Each day I wake up to some nasty news and reports involving our athletes. And this is in spite of the numerous seminars and education outreach we conduct around the country on this subject.
“This is a big name, an elite athlete, who should not just know better but be a role model to the younger athletes.”
Kipsang could not reached for comment.
Kenya was among the countries placed on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA’s) compliance watch list in 2016 and Kipsang is the latest Kenyan athlete to be charged with a rule violation.
Around 60 Kenyan athletes have been sanctioned for anti-doping rule violations in the past five years.
They include 2008 Olympic 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop, former Boston and Chicago Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo and 2016 Olympic marathon champion and former London marathon winner Jemimah Sumgong.
Nick Bitel, Chief Executive of London Marathon Events, said: “We have a zero tolerance policy for all athletes who are found to have been in breach of anti-doping rules and we fully support the work of the AIU.
“London is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors and we continue to work very closely with the AIU on our groundbreaking and extensive intelligence-driven testing programme.”
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, additional reporting by Isaack Omulo and Hardik Vyas, Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)