Asbel Kiprop doping ban “may terminate sporting career”

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Asbel Kiprop winning his third world title in 2015. (Erik van Leeuwen, Wikipedia).

Former Olympic and three-time world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop has been given a four year doping ban.

The Kenyan, who won gold at Beijing 2008, has been charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), after a sample taken in November 2017 contained the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO).

Kiprop, who has been provisionally suspended since February last year, insists he is innocent and has questioned whether his sample was tampered with.

But the AIU, investigating on behalf of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said “no other conclusion” was convincing and acknowledged that the findings “may even terminate the athlete’s sporting career”.

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The 29-year-old is said to have been given advance notice of testing by a local official, to whom he later made a payment of 3,200 Kenyan shillings, around 24 pounds.

However, the panel decided that this didn’t explain the positive drug test, even if it was a “clear departure” from the standards expected.

The official report says Kiprop suggested that EPO could have been “naturally produced due to intense exercise at altitude” following a rest period.

Yet analysts believed that the type of EPO found in Kiprop’s urine was different to that which would occur naturally.

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The AIU says none of the reasons presented by the Kenyan and his lawyers “when subject to strict scrutiny, had any plausibility”.

He is expected to be stripped of any results and winnings from November 2017 to February 2018, with the ban backdated from his original suspension date. Kiprop can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On it’s own, erythropoietin is a protein released naturally by kidneys, which helps red blood cells to be produced in the bone marrow.

r-EPO is a blood doping agent that is used to increase the number of these cells, which play an important role in carrying oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. More red blood cells therefore improves the amount of oxygen that can be carried to the muscles.

Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong was banned for similar offences in January.

See a copy of the licence for the header image used in this article here.