Asbel Kiprop, the former Olympic and three-time 1500m world champion, has insisted he is a “clean athlete” after reports emerged that he had failed a drugs test.
Rumours have swirled within the sport for some time that a prominent Kenyan athlete had become the latest in a growing list of the nation’s runners to fail drugs tests.
Kenyan newspaper The Standard confirmed on Wednesday morning that a Kenyan runner who had “dominated World Championships over the years” had tested positive for the performance enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO) in an out-of-competition test.
Neither the Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya nor Athletics Kenya have confirmed the identity of the athlete, but numerous reports named Kiprop.
“I have read the reports linking me to doping,” Kiprop told the Guardian. “As an athlete, I have been at the forefront of the fight against doping in Kenya, a fight I strongly believe in and support.
“I would not want to ruin all what I have worked for since my first international race in 2007. I hope I can prove that I am a clean athlete in every way possible.”
Kiprop won his first global title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before completing a hat-trick of World Championship triumphs in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Expected to challenge for a fourth world title in London last summer, Kiprop faded to finish ninth in the Olympic Stadium.
Kenyan athletics has been embroiled in an increasing number of doping cases, with more than 40 athletes failing drugs tests over the past five years.
The country was declared “non-compliant” with global anti-doping regulations prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics and IAAF president Seb Coe confirmed Kenya remained on the watch-list of the Athletics Integrity Unit last November due to its number of anti-doping violations and allegations of financial impropriety among leading figures within the country’s athletics governing body.
Rio 2016 Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong had been the highest profile Kenyan to fail a drugs test when she was handed a four-year ban last year after also testing positive for EPO – her second doping violation after she had tested positive for prednisone in 2012.
Sumgong’s ban followed that of another prominent marathon runner Rita Jeptoo, who was also banned for four years after testing positive for EPO.