GB’s Kyle Langford slams banned Kenyan athlete for ‘robbery’

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Kyle Langford and others at the 2015 Birmingham Grand Prix. NS53 via Flickr.

British 800m runner Kyle Langford has described being beaten by a Kenyan banned for doping offences as ‘robbery’.

Langford, 22, missed out on a medal at last year’s World Athletics Championships by four hundredths of a second to Kipyegon Bett, who has been banned until 2022, in a decision announced by the Athletics Integrity Unit.

A sample taken from the 20-year-old in July 2018 was found to contain the performance-enhancing drug r-EPO.

Bett, who was World Under 20 Champion in 2016, is also said to have “refused or failed” to give another sample earlier this year “without compelling justification”.

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The verdict doesn’t relate to testing around the 2017 World Championships and only Bett’s results from 24 February to 15 August 2018 will be scratched.

In an Instagram post captioned with the word “robbery”, Kyle Langford said he felt hard done by because those results are months after Bett clinched bronze ahead of him in London, yet the Kenyan is set to keep that medal.

“IAAF have decided not to strip him!”, he wrote. “What now feels unlucky (is that) I was 4th. The moment of a global medal at a home championships stolen.”

Langford, who has since won silver at the Commonwealth Games, added that missing out on the podium meant “financial losses that would have made a massive difference to my life”.

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The AIU says an IAAF-authorised doping control officer met with Bett to try and test him in February, but the offiial was told by the runner “he would not be tested”.

The unit also says the blood booster r-EPO was present in a sample of Bett’s urine taken in July 2018.

Since that discovery was made, the investigation report talks of failed attempts to communicate with Kipyegon Bett, to get him respond to notices of the charges against him or attend a hearing to discuss his case.

With a deadline to respond set for September, the AIU says he sent a reply by e-mail last month mentioning that he “never used EPO”. Reports in Kenyan media suggest he maintains his innocence following the ruling.

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On it’s own, erythropoietin (EPO) 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.

As part of the ruling, the Kenyan will be ineligible to compete for four years from the backdate of 15 August 2018, meaning he’s expected to miss out on the 2020 Olympic Games and the next two World Championships.

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He is able to appeal the decision, although independent Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation reports that he won’t because of the cost of doing so.

Bett’s compatriot, Olympic and world champion Asbel Kiprop, was suspended for testing positive for EPO earlier this year pending the outcome of a review. He maintains his innocence.

Britain’s Kyle Langford struggled with injury in 2018 following his Commonwealth podium appearance, but has promised “there’s going to be more medals” as he looks to regain his best form in 2019.