Olympic and three times 1500m world champion Asbel Kiprop has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance.
The Kenyan, who 10 years ago beat Kiwi silver medallist Nick Willis at the Beijing Olympics, is widely regarded as the finest 1500m runner of the last decade.
Kiprop’s agent, Federico Rosa, said he was aware of the rumour but was “still trying to get confirmation”, when contacted by The Daily Mail.
However, senior athletics sources have confirmed the 28-year-old failed an out of competition test.
A report in Kenya on Tuesday said a high profile runner who has “dominated world championships over the years” was embroiled in a doping scandal.
It also claimed, while there was no confirmation from the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (Adak) or Athletics Kenya (AK), that the substance was the same blood-boosting drug used by disgraced Kenyan Jemima Sumgong.
Sumgong, who won the women’s marathon at the Rio Olympics, last year tested positive for EPO and was subsequently banned for four years.
Kenya has been stung by a rash of positive tests in recent years. Between 2012 and 2016, 40 cases were reported, including marathon gun Rita Jeptoo.
Rosa said he was fearful Kiprop had indeed tested positive.
“I recognise it’s a big story, but if it’s true it will be very sad,” he said.
Kiprop, who won his last 1500m world title in 2015, shot to prominence as a 19-year-old, when he was narrowly beaten by Rashid Ramzi at the Beijing Olympics.
However, the Bahraini runner tested positive for a modern EPO and Kiprop and Willis moved up the podium.
Kiprop has competed in the opening Diamond League event of the season, in Doha, every year since 2010, but is not listed to compete on Saturday