The four-year ban for marathoner Vincent Chepsiror Kipchirir was upheld on Thursday night, becoming the latest Kenyan athlete to be caught in the web of a crisis that threatens to disparage the integrity of the respected distance running nation.
According to the latest sanctions for doping and non-doping violations released by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the 31 year-old Kipchirir failed an ‘in competition test’ at the Polokwane Mayors Marathon in South Africa on April 30, 2016.
He is banned from competition from November 12, 2016 until November 11, 2020 having been disqualified from running on the day of his infraction.
Kipchirir is largely unheralded in his nation, having made estimated earnings of USD20, 935 (KSh2.107m) from the sport according to the Association of Road Running Statisticians who credited him with 18 career wins largely from small races.
On the material day, Kipchirchir ran 2:23:02 for to cut the tape ahead of local favourite Maputo Lotendo (2:25:54) in first place but his subsequent suspension now sees him stripped of that title.
He ran his career best over the ultimate distance of 2:13:04 in Bonn, Germany in 2008.
Earlier this week, the AIU the independent body which is mandated by world governing body, the IAAF to take charge of the doping control process announced that the first World Anti-Doping Agency accredited lab in East Africa would start operating in September.
The facility serving Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Eritrea is seen as a critical step towards fighting the vice that has spiked to endemic levels in the region particularly in the former nation where over 60 runners have fallen foul of doping violations.
While Kipchirchir’s bust will not set pulses racing, Kenyans are waiting in bated breath for the Disciplinary Tribunal hearing for Beijing 2008 Olympics and three-time men 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop.
AIU confirmed in May that the three-time World Cross champion had tested positive for banned blood booster, EPO and earlier this week, he posted a sordid video on social media featuring him in a compromising position with the wife of his friend and pacemaker, Andrew Rotich.
According to a flurry of social media posts between the erstwhile friends turned bitter love rivals traded accusations with Kiprop alleging Rotich set him up with the AIU, taking his revenge by exposing the affair with his wife.
Before that, Kiprop has strenuously protested his innocence and his hearing is set for London on September 25 having been provisionally suspended pertain to an out of competition test at his home in November last year.
World Championships men 800m bronze winner, Kipyegon Bett, 2006 Commonwealth women 10,000m champion, Lucy Wangui Kabuu and Samuel Kalalei are other Kenyan athletes charged alongside Kiprop in the last two months for dope-related offenses.
Bett faces two charges, finding of EPO in his system from a test conducted in June and evading Doping Control Officers twice.
AIU is also seeking to extend the four year ban meted on women’s Olympics marathon champion, Jemimah Jelagat Sumgong after accusing him of lying over the source of the EPO that saw her handed a four-year ban last year.